Monday, June 20, 2016

Read our runner up Logan's experience at the TARGETcareers School Leavers' Challenge!

First off I'd like to thank Target Careers and BT for organising such an informative and fun day at the BT Tower in London. It really was a fantastic opportunity that I would encourage everyone eligible to enter it next year.

The first round of the competition was an online quiz which had a whole variety of questions in it, from scenarios about your first day at work to mathematical and logic puzzles. It is a timed process so when you start make sure you are able to complete it all in one go. After completing the quiz it gave you a score and placed you on the regional scoreboard. I placed second in Scotland but since I was one of the first 20 or so to complete it I was pleasantly surprised that I held my place until the closing date. This is when the competition gets more tense as the top 10 people from each region are invited to attend the grand final which was held at the BT Tower in London.

I flew to London the night before and after stayed in a hotel nearby so that I would be prepared for the following morning. The event started at 9am after we had all signed in at the awe-inspiring BT Tower. The first event of the morning was an introduction where we were told what the format of the day was going to be.  After this we were split into our groups for the day and the activities began. Throughout the day each group took part in two challenges, based on the kind of activities that we might encounter at an assessment centre when applying for a job. After an ear-popping journey to the top of the tower my group took part in the first challenge which involved using plastic spoons to move marbles from one cup to another. The challenges seemed rather trivial but they were good fun and the assessors had a close eye on us to see how well we worked as a team and used our leadership skills. The actual challenge was just a means of getting the group to work as a team and having fun.

After this came one of my personal highlights of the day, a networking lunch where we had the chance to eat some delicious food whilst networking with employees from the sponsoring businesses. I had a very useful and informative chat with a recruiter from BT. This was also a good opportunity to get to know some of the other finalists and to enjoy the spectacular view out over London from the top of the tower.

The afternoon was made up of another assessment centre style challenge, a session on personal branding and a "How to get Hired" question and answer session. The personal branding session was about how you can present yourself in a positive and professional way using social media and more formal methods such as CV's. This proved very useful when re-drafting my CV to apply for work experience in the summer. The "How to get Hired" session had recruitment professionals from all 9 of the sponsoring businesses on the stage ready to answer any questions we had related to getting a job. This was another brilliant opportunity that I'm sure will prove useful in the next few years for everyone in attendance.

The awards ceremony was the final event of the day. The prizes were awarded by Mark Murphy from BT. I was delighted when my name was called out as runner up in the competition. The prize of the competition this year is a day at BT's Adastral Park Research and Innovation centre which includes the opportunity to meet people from BT and to find out more about a department of our choice. I am really looking forward to the event which is happening this summer.

I think everyone who attended the event will agree that the day had been both fun as well as very informative and worthwhile. My top tips for anyone who makes it to the final next year is to just relax and enjoy the event. It is not often that you are given such a unique opportunity to prepare yourself for the workplace. In order to make the most of the event you have to be confident and ask questions. The day is not without it's challenges but if you embrace them I have no doubt that you will find the day rewarding and fun. Thanks again to everyone at Target Careers for organising the event and to all of the sponsoring companies for their support.

Visit to find out more information about the challenge!

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.