This time last year, I received an email from my head of sixth form about the National Schools’ Challenge (now known as the TARGETcareers School Leavers' Challenge), with some information about the challenge and a link to an online test. Whilst at the time I didn't think much of it, later on that evening I had another look and thought I would give the online test a go, just out of interest to see what it was like. I knew that these types of psychometric tests were quite commonly used by employers when selecting for graduate posts, so I thought it would be quite a good experience to have. I certainly wasn't expecting to be invited to the Grand Final, held at Wragge Lawrence Graham & Co in Birmingham, and even less was I expecting to win!
- For the online portion of the test, you're given a warning before you start that the test is timed, so try to make sure you're in a place where you can focus for the whole duration of the test – when I was taking it my dad came in to my room halfway through to ask my opinion on something and looked hopelessly confused when I started frantically shushing him!
- On the day of the final, though it may be tempting to work yourself into a nervous frenzy, try to stay calm and take it as the great opportunity it really is. You're getting the chance to spend the day talking to employers from a really diverse range of fields, networking and getting to find out what they're really looking for in employees – have fun and enjoy it! You'll be in a group with other, like-minded students as well, so though you are being assessed individually, teamwork does play a big part in succeeding in the tasks you're set.
I would encourage everyone to take part and have a go at this challenge – you never know what might happen! Obviously there are great prizes to be won if you do well, but more importantly opportunities to meet representatives from so many different firms all in one place don't come very often, and you get the chance to develop some really key skills that are important in the world of work, and find out some of the techniques employers use to assess those skills (and you also get a really fun day out!).