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Undergraduate of the Year awards: a winning experience

By Kirsten Alexander-McGarry - Posted on 27 April 2017

Undergraduate Kirsten Alexander-McGarry has been named Management Undergraduate of the Year in awards sponsored by Target Jobs. Here, Kirsten talks about the competition process and the benefits of taking part.

I signed up to Target Jobs a couple of years ago to receive emails about internships and graduate jobs. As Target Jobs sponsor the awards, they emailed often about them, encouraging undergraduates to sign up. The application form was long and was followed by a series of online tests powered by CEB who provide the testing for recruitment with several leading organisations. I did not for a second believe that I would even make it through the first round, but I decided to fill out the form and take the tests to familiarise myself and practise for when I graduate.

I was over the moon when I found out I’d won! It has been a long process but I have enjoyed every stage of it. It begins with the application form, followed by three different online assessments. Following this, Target Jobs drew up a Long List which was handed to the company sponsoring the award, Enterprise Rent-a-Car, who then viewed our applications and test results and drew up a short list of the top 50. These top 50 then had a twenty minute telephone interview with Ashley Hever, the director of talent acquisition for Enterprise Rent-a-Car.

Those who were successful at this stage were invited down to the company European Headquarters in Egham for an Assessment Day in March. This consisted of three parts: a group discussion activity, an individual activity entitled 'leading a morning meeting' and a final interview. Each of these activities was challenging, but the group of friendly assessors from the company made it enjoyable and exciting.

This was a fantastic experience - not only to visit the European Headquarters, but to experience a professional assessment day, much the same as Enterprise's graduate recruitment process. After a nervous few days waiting to hear, I received a phone call from Ashley Hever to inform me I had made the top 10. I was absolutely thrilled to have been chosen to represent the University of Strathclyde on the national stage at the finals in Canary Wharf!

The whole day was fantastic. Target Jobs pulled out all the stops to make it a wonderful day of celebration. The ten finalists from each category were joined by ten executive members from their host company, beginning with networking drinks and followed by a lunch before the award ceremony got underway. Television presenter Konnie Huq was the host for the day and made it an entertaining and professional event.

For each category, a representative of the company would take to the stage to announce the winner. Khaled Shahbo, Corporate Vice-President/Managing Director UK & Ireland, Enterprise Holdings Inc, presented the Management award. I was shocked and thrilled to hear my name read out - the other finalists were so talented and each winner had their biography read out, describing the fantastic achievements that they have had. It was an honour to be in a room with the brightest undergraduate talent in the UK and to be named one of the twelve winners.

Part of the prize is an internship and I have won work experience on two continents! My 10-week summer placement with Enterprise Rent-A-Car includes a week in the USA, where I'll experience all aspects of the business, from customer service to marketing to finance and sales, as well as valuable networking opportunities, including the chance to meet the directors and senior management at Enterprise in Summer 2018.

I am really passionate about management – I’ve especially enjoyed my third year class ‘The Reflective Manager’ - and so to be named Management Undergraduate of the Year 2017 is such an honour.

This process has taught me a lot about myself. As an undergraduate it is hard to know what the professional world will be like and how the skills that I am learning in my studies will be applied after university. I was able to experience an assessment centre, where my teamwork, communication and presentation skills were put to the test. I have gained so much confidence in my abilities, understanding what it is to be 'employable', which is something that I have always viewed as almost unattainable.

As someone from a small town in Argyll, to achieve something on the national stage is so encouraging. Taking part in a competition like this allows students to meet other undergraduates studying the same subjects from around the UK and to get their name out there amongst some of the UK's biggest and best graduate employers. My network has grown significantly as a result of this competition and I look forward to seeing what all of the finalists and award winners go on to achieve!

I hope to share this new-found confidence and inspire the young people that I work with that anything is achievable if you put your mind to it! It is clear that the University of Strathclyde Business School is creating some great talent and to represent the university in a room of undergraduates from 46 UK universities, winning one of the twelve available awards has hopefully shown this. I would encourage any other undergraduate from any year or degree discipline to sign up to Target Jobs and get involved when the applications for next year open! You've got nothing to lose!



Contact details

 Undergraduate admissions
 +44 (0)141 548 4114
 sbs-adviser@strath.ac.uk 

 Postgraduate admissions
 +44(0)141 553 6118 / 6119
 sbs.admissions@strath.ac.uk

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