Wednesday, December 16, 2015

New Year’s Resolutions Every Student Should Consider Making

The concept of making a new year’s resolution works perfectly in practice, but I struggle to remember what hopeful requests I have made of myself in the past. So this year I have decided to actually write a new year’s resolution. I will keep it pinned up in the kitchen so not only am I confronted by it every day, but everyone else who I share a house with will hopefully remind me if I consider straying from the path. I’ll tell you my resolution after some suggestions of minor self improvements that could transform you into a happier, healthier and more successful student.

No more economy beans

I thought I’d start with an easy one. The cheapest tin of beans in a supermarket costs less than 30p, and when you’re strapped for cash that can sound like a good lifestyle choice. It really isn’t, they have about half the nutritional value of the slightly more expensive alternatives, taste awful and furthermore they make you look bad. Seriously, call me a snob but I make instant judgements on people who have economy beans in their kitchen, for a saving of 20p you have demonstrated a bland indifference to quality, a pitiful lack of taste and have simultaneously lowered the tone of your living space with the uninspired packaging. So this year go for better beans, change your life with self respect in a can!

Only one hour of television

Procrastination can come in many forms, biting your nails, fiddling with executive toys or just staring into the middle distance while you are distracted by your own thoughts. By far the most dangerous forms of procrastination are ones where you are sat away from your workspace. You know how it is when you wake up on a private study day and are distracted by a harmless re-watching of a beloved Friends episode while you drink your morning coffee? Well six hours later, the time when the morning’s entertainment developed into a slightly less innocent Jeremy Kyle session becomes a distant memory, and your study day has somehow evolved into a Diagnosis Murder marathon. Meanwhile that thesis you have to hand in tomorrow has been gathering dust... Here’s a plan, give yourself limits on TV time. In mornings set aside an allowance of just 30 minutes and in the afternoon an hour. Hang a stopwatch in the living room by the TV and start the timer before you sit down. When the buzzer goes, stand up and switch both the stopwatch and the TV off, then get back to what you’re supposed to be doing!

Stand up at least once every 2 hours

Here’s a health and safety tip that covers all bases. The general consensus among researchers in this field is that a 17-minute break every 52 minutes will do both you and your work the world of good. This will be massively beneficial to your brain, your posture as well as your eyes (this link shows you a few more ways to be good to your vision). I used to be guilty of neglecting to give myself breaks, and despite feeling the effects every day I keep saying ‘I must make that change at some point’, then get to work and four break-less hours later I’m aching all over! These days I use the old stopwatch trick, keep it the other side of the room, set it for 52 minutes then get up, switch it off, and hey-presto! You’re on a break!

Stop annoying housemates with noise

Are you a broadcaster? That’s someone who wants people to hear what they are hearing, either through their choice to crank up the volume while they listen to extreme metal in their rooms or use mini speakers to listen to their drum and bass mp3s on the train. Most broadcasters convince themselves that they are ‘sharing’ their music for the benefit of others, as if the general public has a need for extreme contemporary elevator music. In shopping centres the intention of piped music is to stop people from feeling bored whilst shopping, as well as creating a distraction that will stop consumers from thinking too hard and rationally, lest they decide against buying a product. This post should underline how serious the effects of unwanted noise can be, and this one gives a few negative ways that your broadcasting habit is affecting you. It’s time to consider what it must be like to live with an unwanted self elected residential DJ and start using headphones. Keep the music down in your room, people will respect you more, because not only will you give them more space to think in your own house, you may give your own mind some space for self reflection. Maybe in 12 months time you’ll look back with horror at the torture you used to put your housemates through!

Cooperate in the eggs, milk, and cheese struggle

When you’re living in a student house, not only do you have to remember to eat well (free food anyone?), but remember to treat your shared home as a community and play your role. Eggs, milk and cheese seem to be the products that trigger more ill feeling than people realise. I’ve been in houses where I always buy the milk simply because I can’t stand waking up and not being able to have my cornflakes! In that situation I made sure that my other two housemates took responsibility for cheese and eggs. Got four housemates? One of them should be the butter guy. Five housemates? Meet the toilet paper purchaser! Everyone should have a role and stick to it, so communally assign tasks, pin everyone’s resolution in the kitchen and you’re all set for a happy new year!

So what’s my new year’s resolution going to be? Well, for the welfare of both myself and others I’m going to fill up and empty the dishwasher, regularly. I really think I can succeed in this task, and by using the note pinned in the kitchen strategy, I’m subtly reminding everyone else to do their share too. And remember, a new year’s resolution shouldn’t just be for a few weeks, or for the whole year, it should be for life! Yikes. 

Article written by Student Money Saver for TARGETjobs. 

Thursday, November 12, 2015

The ultimate guide to video interviews

We all want to get that brilliant job, but knowing how to present yourself to employers can be challenging, especially on video. We have chatted to Inspiring Interns about their tips to acing video interviews. Whether you’re a graduate or making a career change, this is the guide for you.

What is a video interview?

In today’s ever-changing world, video interviews are becoming more and more common. Depending on which survey you read, at least 60% of companies are now using video interviews at some stage in their hiring process. There are many books for graduates on how to excel in an interview - but what if all you have is a screen? This can actually be to your advantage. This guide will teach you how to excel in your video interview, so that you can land your dream job.

There are two different types of video interviews; Live, and One-way. A ‘live’ interview is when you and your employer talk in real time, as you would in an in-person interview. The benefit of a live interview is that you can build rapport with the interviewer, and gain an immediate sense of the company’s culture. A one-way interview is when you are sent the pre-set questions, and given a time-frame in which to respond with a video recording of yourself answering them. The benefit of a one-way interview is that you have time to think through your answers.

How to prepare for a video interview

When preparing for a video interview, the lighting is essential. You may answer the questions well, but if the interviewer is struggling to make you out you will leave a bad impression. Using lamps in your room, make sure your face is clear and well lit - open up your webcam and check how you look from the cameras perspective.

What you sit in front of when you do the video interview is very important. Your background needs to be clean, neat, and uncluttered. Remover everything you can, so that there is nothing to distract the interviewer from your answers. If you can find a plain white or cream wall, that is best.

How you dress is also important. If you are applying for an internship at a start-up that advertises a fun company culture on their website, don’t wear a suit and tie. If you are applying to a law firm, a suit and tie is best. Here is a link with a list of roles and the best way to dress appropriately to help you get hired.

Rehearsing your answers is the most essential preparation you can do to be recruited. There’s a reason actors rehearse scenes, and sport professionals train for the big race. On the day, when the spot-light is on you and it’s your turn to shine - you need to be prepared. Have a look at this list of general interview questions to practice answering. As well as rehearsing these, brainstorm other questions you could be asked, and practice your answers to those too.

TIP: It is important you sit in the chair you will be interviewed in, in your interview clothes, with the lighting on, looking directly into the camera while you rehearse. Actors rehearse their lines on set so their mind and body learn how to perform together. You need to rehearse your lines on set, so that in the interview you look natural, feel confident, and know exactly what you are going to say.

I experienced a video interview when going through the application process to get my job here at Inspiring Interns. I was surprised how well it worked! The interview went really well, and through video I got a very clear idea of Inspiring Interns, the people and the great company culture. A video interview made more sense than a standard interview as it saved a lot of time in travel. I lived in the North of England, so travelling to London would have been very time consuming. My number one tip is treat it exactly like a face-to face-interview; dress to impress, use positive body language and make sure you’re in a quiet environment.' – Tyler Milner Marketing Executive

Technology needed for video interviews

To conduct a video interview, you will need a webcam, headphones, and microphone - all of good quality. Most laptops come with these, but not all are good. Test the quality of yours with friends (on a skype call or google hangout). If the image or sound isn’t good enough, it is worth investing in buying a webcam or headphones with a microphone. This link compares the best webcams, and this one compares the best headphone/microphone combinations.

Ideally, be connected to the router physically rather than using Wi-Fi. If you only have access to Wi-Fi, make sure you’re not more than a few meters away from the router to ensure a strong internet connection. We recommend troubleshooting your internet connection so that you can be assured the call won’t disconnect or lag during your interview. If you have a Mac, click here for the steps to troubleshoot. If you are using windows software, click here. Also, make sure no one else will be using the Wi-Fi at the same time as your video interview. To check the speed of your internet, use Ookla Speedtest.

Based on seven years’ experience arranging interviews, some of which have been online, we often hear from employers how much they love video interviews. They save them time, while still giving a clear impression of the candidate and a sense that it’s a real interview – as opposed to a phone call.’ – Benedict Hazan, Head of Innovation

Tips and tricks for the interview 

When choosing your outfit, avoid wearing anything white. It can come across as distractingly bright. Body language speaks louder than words - if you say you are confident while slouching and shifting your gaze, the interviewer will not believe you. Posture - sit up straight, shoulders relaxed, and back. Look directly at the webcam (make sure you rehearse this while practicing your answers). Check out this link which shows poses to do before your interview to increase your confidence.

Before the interview, remind yourself how amazing you are. We live in a culture which doesn’t encourage us to feel proud of ourselves – forget about that for the moment. Who cares what society thinks. You are amazing. You’ve achieved things, felt nervous and done them anyway, and produced good work. Be proud of who you are.

Be proud of the value you can add to a company. Many graduates go into an interview hoping to get the internship, and hoping to get paid well, while feeling on a lower level than the interviewer. Realize that they are interviewing you because of the potential value you can add their company. And they’re not the only ones interviewing – you should be interviewing them as well. Ask questions to find out whether it’s a company you would actually enjoy working for. This will impress them, and give you the information you need to know whether you would want to accept the job or not.

As an internship recruitment agency we love graduates who come in passionate, confident, and asking questions to make sure the job is the right fit for them long-term. Here is Nicole’s success story to show you the internship possibilities that are waiting for you around the corner.


Setting up the space:
  • Lighting
  • Comfortable chair
  • Appropriate clothes
  • Clean uncluttered background

Equipment checklist:
  • Camera
  • Headphones and mic
  • The program you will be interviewed through (likely to be skype or google hangout)

  • Rehearse your answers
  • Do the powerful postures
  • Remember you are interviewing them too 

List of Links

For more information, contact Catherine from Inspiring Interns at

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Read Oishi's story on how she got a Vodafone internship through TARGETjobs Events!

Oishi attended many of our TARGETjobs Events, including IT's not just for the boys!, Future Female Engineers and STEMinism presents Vodafone. All helping her gain valuable insights to a variety of STEM related fields and learning insider tips for applications to major companies in these fields.

As a result of the event, Oishi secured an internship with Vodafone. We caught up with her to find out how she got on..

My internship at Vodafone

I am Oishi, Software and Electronics Engineering undergraduate student at University of Leicester, and I have just completed my second internship at Vodafone over the summer. I was working as a ‘Technology Operational Management’ intern in the team of the Vodafone’s Technology Director and senior managers. It was a great experience to work closely with such senior people at Vodafone. I worked on various weekly and monthly technology reports which involves analysing and checking data. I was responsible for production of Technology Weekly Trading Pack and the reporting pack for the Director. My role involves analyzing and managing monthly Technology Objective Dashboard and Technology Key Performance Indexes (KPIs). I was also responsible for managing the Director’s meeting governance and creating agendas, minutes and pre-reads for various meetings.

Through these accountabilities I improved various skills which includes analytical thinking, while gathering, analysing and managing information for production and review of various reports. I further improved my written and verbal communication skill while interacting with various teams within Vodafone to fetch information for regular reports. Furthermore, I improved technical knowledge of telecommunication networks and transmission techniques through courses in Vodafone Academy. These helped me to relate to the technical aspects of the reports much clearly. 

I really enjoyed working with such great people at Vodafone. The internship has been a great experience and has definitely boost my confidence a lot. I highly recommend and encourage other students to get involve with internships and build up their skills. Moreover, the internship at Vodafone became more memorable as I got the opportunity to celebrate my birthday there. Just a week before finishing the internship it was my birthday, and my team greeted me and gifted me with a bracelet. I never expected it, and I was really surprised and so pleased. I was so fortunate to be able to work with such amazing people. 

Before I could realize, the eight weeks were gone. On my last day, I had farewell lunch and following that was awaiting my final internship review, I was anxious to know my performance and was so pleased to receive great feedback from my manager. I am glad I made the most of this opportunity and will always cherish this wonderful experience and the amazing people I met. 

So, how did I get the internship?

I found out about this internship having attended IT's not just for the boys! I passed the selection process and was offered the internship for the summer. Following the first internship, I was invited back again for this summer. 

My message to other students

I definitely encourage other students especially females in STEM to take part in TARGETjobs Events and to make the most out of these opportunities. Who knows, you might end up with an amazing internship experience!

With the team at Vodafone.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Catching up with the 2015 TARGETcareers School Leavers' Challenge winner!

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!

Here's my top tips for the challenge:
  • 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!).

What's next?

I've just started Year 13, and am planning on going to university to study Maths – in fact, I just finished my UCAS application not long ago, so whilst that made the start of term quite hectic, I'm glad to have everything sorted and out of the way so that I can concentrate on my A-Level studies. I'm still not too sure on my plans post-university, but I know that the experience of taking part in the TARGETcareers School Leavers' Challenge has given me a taste of what the future could hold, and has given me invaluable skills that I will no doubt find essential in later life.

I wish everyone taking part the best of luck in the TARGETcareers School Leavers' Challenge 2016 – I hope you enjoy it as much as I did! 

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Interested in applying to the UGOTY Languages Award? We had a catch up with our Winner, Aysel!

After some very busy summer months travelling around and expanding what will be my infinite repertoire of useful and not-so-useful expressions in foreign languages, I have finally arrived in Copenhagen to undertake my LLM in Human Right Law.

It has been a very busy time for me after winning the Languages Undergraduate of the Year award all the way back in April. Immediately after the incredible ceremony in East Wintergarden, where I got to meet the lovely people working at different EU institutions, I had to get back into study mode as my exams were fast approaching. Thankfully, there was my visit to Brussels to look forward to, not to mention an additional trip to the EU offices in London! It was completely unexpected and a very kind gesture by everyone on the EU team to arrange an additional part of the trip. They put in a lot of effort to rearrange events and work their schedule around mine, just so I could get more exposure to their work in various locations. It was both incredibly flattering and very humbling to be in the presence of so many very accomplished individuals, who were taking time off their busy schedules to spend it with me.

The visit to Brussels itself was an action-packed three-day trip, whereby I probably visited more EU institutions in 72 hours than most of the people working for the EU do in the first few months of their employment. Since my preferred destinations were kindly asked for before my arrival, my whole time in the city was spent meeting what I thought were the most interesting people and participating in what seemed like the most engaging conferences. Everything from law to refugees, to new EU regulations that were coming into place, and even a lovely lunch with David Barfield was in place for me. Once more, I felt tremendously privileged to be where I was: in the heart of Europe and its legal machinery amidst the most impressive individuals from all over the continent. I would really love to thank everyone who made my trip as special and insightful as it was for all their effort and encourage every person out there with an interest in languages to apply. Just going through the application process is an eye-opening experience, whilst getting to the final stages is an incredible opportunity to meet remarkable individuals from all over the country who share the same passion as you.

Today, I am in Copenhagen to undertake my LLM, a decision, which has come to be thanks to the Erasmus programme, yet another EU initiative. Coming here for a year, meeting the country’s people and picking up the local language, was so incredible that I had to return. I am now studying Danish intensively alongside my studies, whilst also taking final level Spanish upon a reassurance by someone on the EU team that it wouldn’t be that hard. I took the challenge and although it is proving difficult at times, I love the feeling of excitement and deep achievement I get every time I commit a new vocabulary word to my memory. Thank you, TARGETjobs and EU Careers for once again reminding me how much I love languages and seeing me worthy of this incredible award!

Register for the 2016 Undergraduate of the Year awards now. 

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Our Male Undergraduate of the Year, Harrison Dent, tells us what he's been up to since winning the Award!

Why L’Oréal? Because it’s worth it!

What a summer it has been for me! While it seems only yesterday that Managing Director of L’Oréal UK & Ireland read out my name at the 2015 Undergraduate of the Year awards ceremony, so much has happened and I have come so far since that moment.

Straight from the morning of my first day with L’Oréal, I was inducted into the Giorgio Armani fragrances team and given real responsibilities and a very real workload. Day to day administrative tasks were, in fact, kept to a minimum; instead, I was given big project work, from allocating and distributing Christmas gifting elements following complex retail analysis to conducting assessments and analysis on a brand’s promotional performance to adapt and enhance their promotional strategies.

I would even spend time out of the office, analysing the market from a consumer’s perspective and feeding back my findings to the division’s Managing Director. Every task that I carried out added value in some way and that made myself, as an intern, feel valued and essential – something which is often hard to come by in larger companies.
Me at the Body Shop HQ

It has to be said, a marketing internship with Armani fragrances does not mean a marketing internship with Armani fragrances. I was carrying out tasks relating to finance, sales, logistics, commercial to name but a few; and was even given the chance to work across a few of L’Oréal’s designer fragrance brands rather than simply remaining with Armani Fragrances; from Diesel, to Ralph Lauren and even Viktor & Rolf.

As part of winning the award, I was also lucky enough to spend a few days in Paris, meeting various members of Senior Management and shadowing them in certain meetings, giving me a wider understanding of the company as a whole. Upon my return, I was given the chance to have lunch with Michel Brousset, MD of L’Oréal UK&I and discuss with him my experience with the company, his views on certain brands as well as my future career; it felt surreal to be eating fish and chips with the top dog of L’Oréal discussing what my future with the company could entail.

Towards the end of my internship, I applied for the Management Trainee scheme that would begin after I graduated. As I was already integrated into the company, the application process was extremely straightforward. After a short presentation of my work and a brief interview process, I was accepted onto the graduate scheme! It took a while to sink in that before my final year at university had begun, I had already secured a position on a graduate scheme for the following year!

I can honestly say that working for L’Oréal has given me some amazing opportunities and has provided me with a brilliant platform from which to launch a future career. The company as a whole supports its employees in any and every way possible and makes each and every person from the top to the bottom feel valued and important. Although I knew little about neither the beauty industry nor marketing in general before I joined, I can now say that I have a passion for both and cannot wait to start next year’s graduate scheme. Applying for the Male Undergraduate of the Year award is turning out to be one the best decisions I have ever made in terms of my future career!

Myself with Michel Brousset, Managing Director of L'Oréal UK!

Apply for the 2016 Undergraduate of the Year awards now.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Decisions: do I get a graduate job or do postgraduate study?

If you’re struggling to make a decision between doing postgraduate study or getting a graduate job, here are some pros and cons that might help you weigh up your options.

Pros of postgraduate study…

  • It might be the key to your dream job. Some graduate schemes and roles require a masters/post-doctoral degree or equivalent. Some sectors require graduates to undertake a conversion course if your first degree isn’t in a relevant discipline – including IT, law and property – and a PGCE is the usual route to becoming a teacher. For graduates whose dream career requires this kind of further study, it’s a no brainer.

  • You get to spend more time studying the subject that you love. Some graduates can’t wait to delve deeper into the topics that interest them through postgraduate study. However, you might have hated your degree and find the idea of studying for another year (or more, if you fancy a PhD) unimaginable. If so, it’s probably not the right choice for you…

  • More letters after your name. Maybe you just really fancy having ‘Dr’ as your title…

Cons of postgraduate study…

  • The wealth of options for postgraduate study can be bewildering. If you think that you’d be interested in postgraduate study but feel as if you need more information about what’s available to you then get down to the TARGETpostgrad Study and Funding Fair. The fair is touring the UK until March 2016, giving you the chance to meet course providers and funding experts who will help you answer your questions.

  • You might be worried about getting a job afterwards. In some cases postgraduate study is used as an excuse to put off entering the world of work. It’s important to be sure that you really want (or need) to embark on further study rather than using it to bury your head in the sand. If you’re worried about employability, it’s worth noting that most employers will value a year of work experience above a postgraduate degree, unless it is directly relevant to the role.

Pros of getting a graduate job…

  • You earn a wage. After three or more years at university living off a student loan, many graduates can’t wait to start to start earning money. Even if it’s just to start paying back some of that debt…

  • You usually get on-the-job training. Many graduate schemes and jobs offer the opportunity for candidates to work towards a professional qualification or receive training while working. Some employers also allow graduate employees to take designated study leave to prepare for exams. If financial concerns are putting you off postgraduate study, but you’re keen to work towards further qualifications, this could be the route for you.

Cons of getting a graduate job…

  • It might be more difficult to start postgraduate study later on. It is not uncommon for people to return to education later in life, but obviously this is not always simple if you are in a full-time graduate position – it can sometimes involve taking time out of work.

  • It can be pretty stressful. University is tough and embarking on a demanding graduate career immediately after graduating can be a recipe for burnout. Although it’s not advisable to take a five year break, it’s not uncommon for graduates to take a year out if they do feel overwhelmed.

  • You have to start paying back your student loan once you start earning £21,000. Need I say more?

Whichever route you choose to take, TARGETjobs and TARGETpostgrad have plenty of advice, from tackling the mission that is writing a cover letter for a graduate job to deciding where to do your postgraduate study. If you’re really struggling, the TARGETjobs career planner can help you to become clearer about your career options and make a more informed decision about your career path.

Considering postgraduate study? Want to know more?

If you are considering undertaking postgraduate study, chances are you have a fair few questions - 'How will I get funding?', 'Which universities should I apply to?', 'What course is right for me?'

TARGETpostgrad is the leading provider of postgraduate fairs in the UK, giving you the opportunity to meet course providers and funding experts from across the UK, Europe and beyond. All of this and more for FREE!

2015/16 PG Fairs - dates and locations

Find out more and register to attend on the TARGETpostgrad website now. 

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Read on to see what our runner up Alexander has been up to since the UGOY awards!

Name: Alexander Mäkelä
University: University of Lancaster
Course: BA (Hons) Politics, Philosophy, and Economics

I felt that the Undergraduate Of The Year contest truly kicked in during the assessment center. It was thrilling and exposed me to an industry I’d never considered before. I’ll always fondly remember working on a business case for Armani fragrances as part of our individual tasks. Using creative thinking and applying things you learned at university felt so exhilarating. It sparked an interest, so when I found out that I’d been shortlisted as a Undergraduate Of The Year finalist and invited to attend the Grand Gala in London I felt proud.

The gala itself was an amazing experience and TARGETjobs couldn’t have organized a better event. It was great to be surrounded by young, ambitious, and bright people – the vibe and energy was certainly contagious! While I didn’t win I still saw reaching the final stage as an achievement and a treasured memory. I’m also glad I was able to ride on that feeling and the momentum far into the summer.

Fresh out of university, I welcomed the first guests to the refugee housing facility I’d been working on for bit over a year and I co-founded a new initiative focused on fostering innovation on a Nordic level through large scale incentive competitions. Trying to create a public-private partnership unlike anything attempted before. With this aim I attended two separate week long political festivals in both Denmark and Sweden with goal of gaining support. I’m happy to say that I was invited to present a proposal to national representatives from the Nordic countries at a Nordic Council meeting in Oslo just a few weeks back and the dream is very much still alive! Even as I’m writing this blog post, I’ve just returned from the Association of Space Explorers’ annual congress, oddly enough due to another contest I entered - trying new things and following your dreams can truly bring you to unexpected places!

Apart from that, as a finalist of the Undergraduate Of The Year I was offered a placement within the L’Oréal group - one that I gladly accepted. After the summer, I ended up within the commercial development team at The Body Shop. So far the job has been great, plenty of new things to learn (especially as I’m working with new makeup products – as a guy that’s not easy I’ll tell you!). Plus living in London and getting to explore the city has been a fantastic experience so far and I’ve only gotten started!

I’d say take bold steps as you’ll never know where you’ll end up and who you’ll meet during your journey. For me, the experiences I got with Undergraduate Of The Year opened new opportunities and paths I could never have imagined before. I live and work in one of the most vibrant cities on the planet. Every day as I walk to work I think to myself, I live in a city that almost has as many people as my home country. It always baffles me, it’s simply amazing and I can’t thank TARGETjobs and Undergraduate Of The Year enough for that feeling.

Pre-register for the 2016 Undergraduate of the Year Awards now.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

We caught up with our 2015 UGOY Future CFO winner to see what he's been up to!

With the summer coming to an end I can truly say that winning an Undergraduate of the Year Award has had a huge impact on me the past few months. I’ve not had much of a break over the summer break but I suppose it is worth it in the long run! Alongside my trip to Shanghai, I also interned at Grant Thornton and TalkTalk, the second being the internship I won with the award. Both internships were brilliant at exposing me to the world of finance. Coming from a mathematics background, it has been an excellent opportunity to discover finance in practice and also in industry.

At Grant Thornton, I spent four weeks in the audit division. I learned about how the process takes place and I was able to look into different stages of the audit for a number of clients. However, I spent most of my four weeks at a larger client, and was able to see the transition from the middle of the audit, nearing to completion. This was a great opportunity as it meant that my work was varied, and I was able to gain more exposure. Also, spending most of my time at a single client gave me a glimpse into the real life of an auditor. I worked with a great team of people who were always willing to help despite my lack of financial knowledge!

I won the internship with TalkTalk through ACCA, and I was very excited to work at such a large company. I did not know much about telecommunications, but working at TalkTalk has shown me that it is an interesting and lively industry. I was looking forward to it from the beginning as it would be an insight into the other side of finance, being in industry. I was lucky enough to gain an insight into different parts of the company through finance, the main two departments being overheads and accounts payable. I enjoyed the internship very much as I was able to find out all the work that goes into producing financial statements. I never had much exposure to financial statements before this summer, but the internships have really helped me discover how not only to understand them but also the information about the company you can gain from them! Also, my internship timed with their half year end, and I was able to take part in several meetings with the managers and finance controllers, which was really interesting as it gave me a flavour of the transition from finance to business, and how financial information can be used to make business decisions.

As I mentioned before, ACCA had kindly presented a trip to Shanghai as part of the award. This was a fabulous opportunity where I met with many financial leaders including CFOs! I was given the opportunity to shadow a CFO at Starwood Hotels Group, one of the largest hotel groups in China, and I learned more about the CFO role itself. I also had the opportunity to meet Grant Thornton in China, which was amazing having already worked at the company in the UK. Speaking to several partners, I learned about business strategies that were being implemented and I was pleased to see that the same values and ambitions in the UK were being resonated in China!

Speaking to the CFOs, I discovered the transition between being an accountant and being able to manage and lead the finance department, and the skills that are required to ensure the success of your career and the organisation. I learned how the ACCA qualification helps one achieve such a transition. Whether it’s here in the UK or in Shanghai, the qualification is looked upon highly, and it is throughout the world. It lets others know you have the technical knowledge needed for a business to operate successfully. The trip really opened my eyes to the recognition for such a qualification, I hope to one day become a qualified accountant myself!

The award has really opened up a lot of doors since I won in April. I’ve been able to expand my network internationally and I discovered more about China, a country I never imagined I would travel to anytime soon! Since ACCA and TARGETjobs are so well recognised, winning the award has really boosted my CV. Being able to take part in internships over the summer has also boosted my CV, but it has also helped me discover new skills that I may not have throughout my academic life. Being able to gain an insight into finance in both practice and industry has confirmed my ambitions to work in finance. The award has helped me decide where I would like my career to take me, and I do hope that I can one day become a CFO!

If there is even a small part of you that believes you can become an Undergraduate of the Year I would insist you apply. Not only is it amazing recognition, but you will get to take part in so many things that could have lasting impacts on your future. I never imagined I would be winning an award when I applied, but I also never imagined the opportunities that would come my way having done so. It has been a fantastic half year since I won, and I only hope the opportunities to learn and develop more keep coming my way!

Pre-register for the 2016 Undergraduate of the Year Awards now. 

Runner up Laura tells us what she's been up to since the UGOY awards

Name: Laura Mckechnie
University: University of Strathclyde
Course: BA (Hons) Finance and Marketing

I first heard about the TARGETjobs Undergraduate of the Year competition from an e-mail sent to me by my careers service at my university. I had no expectations of making it through the online tests given the tough competition but nonetheless, I had nothing to lose by applying.

The online tests were something I had never experienced so I was extremely surprised when I found out that I was through to the top 36. I can remember my excitement when I set off for ACCA’s headquarters in London for their assessment day. This was by far the most challenging part of the competition. I was pushed out of my comfort zone but I remained confident in my own abilities. There was no way of telling how each candidate had performed but I left having met some very inspiring, talented young people.

To my amazement, I found out that I had reached the final 10! Before the final in Canary Wharf, I was invited back to ACCA’s headquarters to meet and network with some representatives. It really hit me when these busy professionals had taken the time to come and speak to me and the other finalists about our career aspirations. It was at this point that I also noticed I was one of only two females to make the final cut. This filled me with even more pride.

The final in Canary Wharf was something else. The highlight for me was sitting next to the CEO of ACCA, Helen Brand, throughout the award ceremony. It was a surreal experience that I will never forget. I would just like to take this opportunity to thank TARGETjobs and ACCA for their input and organisation of the event.

If you have read this blog and are thinking of applying this year, my advice would be to go for it! Even if you are having doubts, just think – what’s the worst that can happen?

My top tips for this year's applicants would be:

1) Prepare – carry out research and practice online tests (I found very useful)
2) Get involved – don’t stand back and let everyone talk over you but don’t be over powering either
3) Enjoy and learn from the experience – you will most likely encounter challenges, some harder than others, but try and learn from them as this will help you in the future

Feel free to contact me on LinkedIn!

Pre-register for the 2016 Undergraduate of the Year Awards now. 

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Our UGOY Low Carbon runner up, Luthfilaudri, tells us about his experience of the awards!

The first time I heard about TARGETjobs' Undergraduate of the Year Award was when I was in my second year. I received an email from my university about the Low Carbon Undergraduate of the Year Award. At the time, I did not bother applying for the award and filling out a lengthy application form. I was thinking that the chance for me to win the award is really small since there is only one winner for each category. I thought that it would be better to apply for other summer internships which have bigger chance of getting accepted. 

In my final year, I received  the same email from university inviting me to apply for Low Carbon Undergraduate of the Year Award. But that time was a bit different as the uni told us that we had won the Low Carbon Award in 2014. That encouraged me to apply for the award, despite the stress I was bearing from doing my final year project. I filled out the application form and wrote the essays required for submission. After that, I clicked the submission button and I immediately received an email that led me to a series of online tests. And hey, who would have known that a couple weeks later I was emailed by EDF energy that a phone interview will be conducted to shortlist several candidates to be invited to an assessment centre. 

The day of telephone interview with an EDF employee eventually came. I was quite nervous at that time although it was not my first time conducting a phone interview. As soon as the conversation started, I felt a sense of relief because the interviewer was really friendly. This phone interview was the toughest interview I had ever done as the interviewer expected concise answers from a set of tricky questions. After the interview ended, all I could do was to pray and hope that I would get to the next round, the assessment centre. But surprisingly, I received an email from TARGETjobs saying that I managed to be in the top 10 finalists for Low Carbon Award. EDF decided not to do an assessment centre. They used the application form and the interview as the basis of their assessment. 

So briefly speaking, I was invited to Canary Wharf in London for the grand finale event. The event was a really great opportunity to network with many talented students from across the UK as well as many employees from highly reputable companies. Not to mention, the food they served was heavenly tasty (that was my first time eating a fancy three course meal). Time did fly and the moment of the winners announcement came. I already had a feeling that my best friend at uni, Rahul, would have won the award. I knew him as a well rounded person, who does not only excel academically but also in social aspect since he was once the president of Chemical Engineering society at uni. And my guess was right, Rahul managed to get the Low Carbon Undergraduate of the Year Award! I was really happy for him.

Although I did not win, I did not go home empty handed. I brought with me a spirit to be a much better individual. I also boosted my confidence level that everything could actually be achieved even if it seems far away from our reach. This has been proven by myself being able to get a postgraduate course and secure a prestigious government scholarship! So my message to all of you who wish to apply for this award is just apply because you will never know what you will get in the end. Do not see a failure as a failure, instead see it as an opportunity to learn and rebuild yourself to come back stronger than ever.

Me with the Uni of Manchester Finalists (top left).

Pre-register for the 2016 Undergraduate of the Year Awards now. 

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Thinking of applying to the 2016 Undergraduate of the Year Awards? Read our Future Business Leader winner's experience!

Secret from a Scottie…

Here’s my thinking… “Of the 350,000+ graduates throughout the UK that successfully graduate the class of 2015, how am I going to differentiate myself? How am I going to make myself more attractive to future employers and achieve my ambitious career goals?” I bet I'm not the first or last person to think this rather daunting thought.

With the highest level of competition ever in the workplace, it’s tough to carve out your career these days and if I could pass on one secret it would be this.

Back in November 2014 I received an email from TARGETjobs outlining the competition. The titles were daunting but they intrigued me. How could they really decide out of all these 350,000+ people who was the winner? Well firstly, not all 350,000+ would apply ,only 3,000 would make the effort. This already greatly improves my chances of winning but that’s still not great odds. Next I questioned, ‘what is the difference between myself, Lynne Howie, right now and the winner in April 2015? What do they have that I don’t?’

I didn’t know the answer but I was going to give myself the opportunity to be that person, so I took a chance and applied. Keeping the application very quiet, I put it in a box to the back of my mind to avoid jinxing myself and tentatively awaited a reply. The day came when I received the phone call from Mars. Taken a little by surprise and without much preparation I threw myself into the call and with delighted success an invitation shortly followed to visit their London HQ. The whole process was a whirlwind of excitement and when I realised I was in the running, my attitude completely changed. I realised just how valuable the title and experience of ‘Undergraduate of the Year - Future Business Leader’ could be to my career moving forward.

With a trip to Dubai and the opportunity to intern at Mars up for grabs there was really no stopping me, I had the desire to see the process to the end. When the congratulatory email pinged into my inbox I was absolutely elated to be a finalist. Making a phone call home to my parents that evening was one of the best feelings I’ve ever had! Considering they didn’t even know I’d entered, let alone been flown London and interviewed.

The ceremony was held in April at the stunning Winter Gardens in Canary Wharf, London. There was a buzz in the room, I was so excited to be part of it and relieved to have taken the time to enter in the first place. We were so lucky to have Fiona Bruce present the award ceremony and when she called out the winner of ‘Future Business Leader’ as ‘Lynne Howie’ I honestly took a moment to realise that was me! It was such a privilege to be chosen by Mars and I am forever thankful for the journey. It was a memory I will keep with me, pushing me onwards and upwards in my business career.

So when you wonder how you could make yourself stand out when it comes your turn to enter the labour market, perhaps use the secret of a Scottie…& make a small effort which might just make a massive difference.

"Hard work beats talent, when talent doesn’t work hard.”

Apply for the 2016 Undergraduate of the Year awards today! 

Our UGOY Engineering winner, Jessica, tells us her experience of the awards!


Starting my 2nd year at Cardiff University studying Integrated Engineering I had to decide whether I should do a year in industry and what the benefits would be. I was looking at what was to offer when I came across the TARGETjobs competition for ‘Engineering Undergrad of the Year Award’. Looking at the previous year’s winner, the prize looked amazing. Not only would the winner get a year placement with Eon, they would also win a trip for two to one of Eon's European projects, an invitation to the awards ceremony and a trophy. I’m interested in the energy sector so knowing Eon sponsored part of this interested me. This title seemed pretty immense but I thought I’d give it try.


The process was quite straight forward. This process ranged from answering questions related to the energy sector to psychometric and logic test and submitting your CV. Don’t get put off by this it was all in small chunks which made it easier. I suggest doing them as soon as you can but there is still time to do them last minute if you forget! If you’ve made the effort to apply you’d be silly not to go the last leg. 

Assessment Centre

I got a call from both TARGETjobs and an Eon representative; I was invited to come to the assessment centre along with 20 others for the day. Assessment days are always a bit daunting but this one was actually quite fun (as fun as they can be!), all the assessors there really just wanted to get the best out of you to see your full potential. I thought the assessment day went relatively well but now it was just a waiting game to hear back from them.

Awards Ceremony 

The phone call I had been waiting for! I had been shortlisted to come to the awards ceremony. I was ecstatic. It was such an honour to get to the top 10, getting to this point was an achievement in itself. The competition was tough, I knew this the second I met all these energetic intellectuals at the assessment centre.

The awards ceremony was held in East Wintergardens in London, it was such a vibrant day, I got the chance to meet the other candidates from across the different awards and the Eon representatives. It was a really good place to network. TARGETjobs pulled all the stops out with this, from the delicious food to Fiona Bruce!  Of course one of the most interesting things was meeting her; she gave a great talk to kick off the ceremony. As she read through the winners I started to get a little nervous, the ‘Engineering Undergraduate of the Year’ was one of the last to be called out. Then it was the time all of us at the table had been waiting for. When she called my name out I froze, I couldn’t believe it. Certainly a moment I will never forget.

Working for Eon

I have now started my placement. It wasn’t what I expected as I didn’t know what to expect! With regards to developing and gaining new skills this is a fantastic place to do so. I feel part of a team here. I’ve been here four weeks and loved every minute of it. On top of this I still have a trip planned, to go to Germany to see one of Eon's projects.

Moving on/Advice

A female winning the ‘Engineering Undergraduate of the Year Award’ is a milestone in relation to us as a society moving forward in promoting STEM subjects to females and equal opportunities, I want to say a big thank you to TARGETjobs and Eon for supporting this, hopefully this will encourage girls to follow their dreams in subjects that are prevalently taken by boys. It is so important to have a mixed gender workforce!

Only advice I would give is to just go for it, do it for the placement, do it for the holiday, do it for the experience, the awards ceremony and for you. Through any part of the process you will only gain valuable skills to help you further in life. Apply now what have you got to lose!

Apply for the 2016 Undergraduate of the Year awards now.  

Friday, September 25, 2015

We’re off! Our time as TARGETjobs editorial interns…

Hi, we’re Charlotte and Ruth, two of the editorial interns here at TARGETjobs. Today marks the end of our four month internship, so we thought we’d reflect on our time at GTI Media.


We’ve sincerely appreciated the friendly vibes at GTI. The expectation as incoming interns, as most students imagine, was that we’d be ostracized by the more mature and experienced full-timers due to our lack of life experience and the bad rep we suffer from as ‘students’. However, we couldn’t have been made to feel more at-ease. As a reasonably small company, we’ve gotten to know a lot of our co-workers – even the CEO stops for a quick chat when we’re grabbing a cuppa.

One of the best parts of being an editorial intern was the interviewing, from partners in law firms to accountancy graduates, we all got to talk to industry professionals. The variety of interviewees means every interview has been different; you could be talking about the impact of the legal aid cuts one day, and about advice for aspiring engineers the next. It’s great to see the article printed and seeing your name credited in the publication too.

As we’re both going into final year (scary!) it’s officially time to sort ourselves out and start applying for grad jobs. Our time working at TARGETjobs has definitely been instrumental in figuring out what we actually could (and want to) do with our lives.


We are based in an office and sitting down all day on a computer can take its toll (hard to believe, we know). There is also constant cake in the office and biscuit time at 3 pm means a fat bulge has appeared. No summer bod for us.

It’s great to have a CV with no gaps, but a four month internship does push the boundaries of endurance. Maybe that has something to do with being accustomed to the luxury of the student-summer, but the summer holiday bants have been sorely missed.


Being from NI, commuting to work in Oxfordshire every morning wasn’t really on the cards. Luckily (especially given rent prices in the area) one of my best friends lives 20 minutes from the office. It might sound like a long time to be on top your friend and her family, but in reality when you’re working 9 – 5 and have a social life, you really aren’t in the house for much other than dinner and bed. – Ruth

I’m not from the Oxford area either, so had to rent a room that I found online and it really wasn’t as bad as it sounds. The family were very welcoming, and a full-time job and making friends in the area meant I was hardly in the house. I’d moved away from home for uni, so knew I’d be able to do it again. – Charlotte

Signing off…

We’ve both learned a lot this summer, and honestly feel like much more employable adults! So we can’t recommend getting a summer internship enough – and if you’re lucky, the person you get stuck sitting beside for over 40 hours each week could be really sound.

Article written by Charlotte Wharf and Ruth Thompson, TARGETjobs Editorial Interns. Connect with Charlotte and Ruth on LinkedIn. 

See what Kate Nichols has been up to since being a runner up in the 2015 Undergraduate Awards!

My name is Kate Nichols and I am in my fourth and final year at the University of Nottingham studying Management with German. I received an email from TARGETjobs while I was on my Year Abroad in Germany, inviting me to apply for the Undergraduate of the Year Awards 2015. Applying for the Management Undergraduate of the Year Award, sponsored by Enterprise-Rent-A-Car, was an extremely exciting and memorable process.  

Initially, I had to fill out an application form which consisted of a few questions from the sponsor regarding leadership and general managerial practice and my personal experiences. Following this, I was invited to undertake three online tests. 

A few days later, I received an email from a Talent Acquisition Manager at Enterprise-Rent-A-Car to inform me that my application and online tests had been successful and I was invited for a telephone interview. I had butterflies in my stomach and I wanted to start preparing for the interview straight away! I am a huge lover of new stationery so I went into the German town where I was living and bought myself some new sticky notes, highlighters, pens and paper. I printed off information regarding the award and Enterprise-Rent-A-Car and started preparing for the interview and eventually every inch of my living room wall was covered in sticky notes! Although I felt nervous about my telephone interview, the interviewer was extremely friendly and was skilled at putting me at my ease so I was able to relax and really enjoy the interview. I could not tell if I had done well enough to get to the next stage of the process. 

Following my interview, I received an email notifying me that I had been selected to attend an assessment centre at Enterprise Holdings in Egham. This was an inspirational and highly enjoyable day. Being surrounded by what I can only describe as the friendliest and most welcoming people, it was a delight to speak to current Enterprise employees about their experience of working for Enterprise and participate in management orientated activities. I received a phone call a week later regarding the outcome of the assessment centre. I was shaking as I knew I would be in competition with other very strong candidates, however I was over the moon to be chosen as one of the 10 finalists for the award.

Attending the awards ceremony in London was extraordinary. The Winter Gardens at Canary Wharf was the perfect venue to host a ceremony for such prestigious awards. It was a pleasure to share this day with the hostess, Fiona Bruce, who enlightened us all with stories of her past and present career. It was an excellent opportunity to share experiences with fellow candidates and network with employees of high profile companies.

As a result of reaching the finals, I was offered a summer internship with Enterprise-Rent-A-Car which I have now completed. By the end of my internship, I was proud of what I had achieved in a short period of time and have met some fantastic people working for Enterprise -Rent-A -Car. I am extremely excited to have also been offered further employment. Applying for the award was one of the best decisions I have ever made. It not only allowed me to experience a graduate application process, but also it exposed me to such wonderful and invaluable experiences which has provided me with a fantastic pool of networks. 

Apply for the 2016 Undergraduate of the Year awards now.