Thursday, June 9, 2016

TARGETcareers School Leavers' Challenge 2016 Winner!

We hear from Abe Chauhan the winner of the TARGETcareers School Leavers' Challenge 2016 about his experience at the Grand Final which was held at the BT Tower, London!

I first heard about the TARGETcareers School Leavers' Challenge through an unremarkable-looking poster in my Sixth Form Centre; it was advertised as a brief online test with a potential Grand Final later in the year. I thought little of it but, later that week, with a looming English coursework deadline, a 30 minute test seemed like the perfect window for some solid procrastination. I had taken similar tests before with careers services at school and so knew roughly what to expect: there were no trick questions and a lot of them were based on normative judgements personal to me which I found put me at ease. After the test I checked the regional leader board and was pleasantly surprised to find myself in the top 10; I was even more surprised when I received an email about a month later informing me that I was still there and had therefore been invited to attend the final.

Spending the day at the BT Tower was of course a great experience - a personal highlight was lunch on the rotating floor of the tower with a panoramic view of the London cityscape. The challenges themselves were unusual but not entirely unpredictable. We were involved in group tasks, the first coordinating a 'delivery service' to transport marbles and the second involving some remarkably tense negotiating while trading cards. Although we were being observed throughout the day I again did not think too much of it; I was able to enjoy the challenges and meet other finalists from my region which was itself quite interesting. The awards ceremony closed the day and I was shocked when my name was announced.

I am still not certain what it is that I did right throughout the day but, despite that, here are some tips for next year's competition:

1. This is the most important by far - actually give it a go. It is so easy to dismiss competitions like these because you do not think you would be suited to them but I never expected to make it to the final, let alone win. This is a useful experience regardless of how far you progress and you cannot benefit from it if you do not at least apply.

2. Be yourself - everyone has their own approach to group challenges and it is not always the loud and brash members who excel; behave as you would normally do and you should enjoy yourself.

3. Finally, should you get to the final, make the most of the networking opportunity. This year's Grand Final hosted representatives from some of the most prestigious graduate employers in the country, who offer fantastic schemes to school leavers and graduates alike. I personally spoke to several people who will hopefully be able to provide me with useful information and opportunities when I seek employment in the future.

Of course I think it is essential that everyone who is eligible opts to take part in next year's challenge; 30 minutes is a small price for potentially invaluable help and advice further down the line. Regardless of how far you eventually progress, each stage of the competition is designed to serve as an insight into the world of employment which, especially in the competitive workplace of today, will prove useful.

What's next:

This year's prize for the winner and runners-up is a day's tailored work experience at BT's Adastral Park which has been arranged for mid-August; I am very much looking forward to being able to see the workings of such an influential company. Speaking more broadly, in September I will (hopefully) be starting at university; I have accepted a conditional offer to read Law with German Law at University College London. Like most people my age I am not completely certain which career path I will eventually take but my experience with the TARGETcareers School Leaver's Challenge has given me helpful exposure to what I can expect in the coming years.

Visit to find out more about the TARGETcareers School Leavers' Challenge. 

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