Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Daphne came third in the 2013 National Student Challenge! Read about her day!

About Me
I’m a second year English and European Law student at Queen Mary, University of London. It’s essentially a normal three-year law degree with an extra year abroad, which I’ll be spending in Paris. My choice of discipline of course gives away my interest in a career in law, but I’m very open to learning about other professions. The National Student Challenge was great in that respect as it enabled me to gain exposure and chat to employers in other fields, which is invaluable in itself. After the Challenge, employers often get in touch with students they particularly liked – it’s a great foot in the door!

The Online Element
I came across the Challenge when looking to practice some of the online tests many employers now make students take. They tend to leave us hanging with regards to results so I was curious to see how mine compared to those of my peers. Overall, I thought it was a lot of fun and very exciting to track my progress on the league table. The advice I would give to people taking the tests is to practice loads before the real thing to avoid feeling like a deer in the headlights. They're supposed to be based purely on ability but it does take a few tries to get your head around the format.

The Grand Final
I was astonished I'd made it to the Grand Final – it was a lovely surprise! The group exercises were not at all what I was expecting – there were some very creative ones like organising a star–studded event and building a paper ramp to slide a ping pong ball down (my favourite). It was quite difficult because we might be working in a team towards a common goal for one exercise, then have to argue against each other in the next. Similar to my surprise at reaching the Grand Final, I did not in any way expect to reach the top 3. It feels great now, though it did take a while to sink in. My large £250 cheque (or my 'two fiddy' as I like to call it) is now proudly hanging on my wall.

How the Experience Will Help Me in the Long Run
Prizes aside, this was a great experience and fantastic preparation for assessment centres. University careers services do run mock sessions but they’re no substitute for the feeling of genuine competition I got from participating in the NSC. Such days are all about teamwork and bringing out the best in the other members of the group, each of whom will bring their own skills and unique way of contributing to the table. Every team is different so it’s important to get loads of practice to get comfortable with assessment centres. A tip I would give is to be careful about how others perceive you. Although it can be tempting to go in there with an 'in it to win it attitude', the others will see this and it will create a difficult atmosphere for co-operation. Much of the positive feedback other winners got related to the fact that they'd made the rest of their group feel at ease and tried to involve everyone in the day's activities.

If this sounds like something you are interested in, why not apply for our Undergraduate of the Year Awards 2014! 12 awards, from 12 employers, for 12 students - do you have what it takes? APPLY NOW!

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