Tuesday, September 30, 2014

We catch up with Courtney Gill on her amazing summer with Rolls-Royce!

When we last heard from Courtney, she'd just finished her first two weeks with Rolls-Royce (read more about that here). Since then she's travelled the world with the company, we caught up with her to find out more...

The summer with Rolls-Royce has truly been unbelievable. I just returned home from my business trip in Jakarta, Indonesia where I was able to see an entirely new culture. I attended a dinner with the British Ambassador at the new embassy celebrating a British-Indonesian aviation partnership, experienced Jakarta traffic at its peak, met some incredibly lovely Indonesians and enjoyed the various locals of the country.  I have one week left with Rolls-Royce when I return to London and am very much looking forward to getting back to the office.

Rolls-Royce CSR day at special needs school – what a wonderful place! 

Explaining all of the wonderful opportunities I have received this summer would take far too long, but what I can say is how impressed I am with the quality of the internship provided by Rolls-Royce. They went over and above to welcome me to the team and to offer learning opportunities at every turn. Whether it was hosting a group from Parliament at the Farnborough Air Show or spending the day with the Indonesian Ambassador to London, it is safe to say that I never had a boring week at work. Some of the summer highlights also included meeting the Rolls-Royce CEO, getting a private tour of Parliament, going to a business meeting in Brussels, giving a presentation in Warwick, going on team runs through St. James Park and meeting various individuals from the FCO.

Day in Derby with Indonesian Ambassador to London, Transport Attaché and Minister Counsellor 

This experience has opened up my mind to the vast world of opportunities that await when I finish Cambridge and I am incredibly excited to embark on my post-graduation journey. Rolls-Royce has begun my life adventure that encapsulates perfectly one of my favourite quotes from Mark Twain: “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

So thank you to Rolls-Royce and to the Undergraduate of the Year Programme for everything!

At the British Embassy in Jakarta with acting Ambassador Rebecca Razavi

Fancy following in Courtney's footsteps? The Undergraduate of the Year Awards are open now! 

We speak to the winner of the 2014 Low Carbon Undergraduate of the Year Award on her experience since the final!

In January 2014 I had just got back from my semester abroad, studying at the National University of Singapore, and was looking forward to starting my third year design project. I was in the process of looking for a summer internship and noticed an e-mail from my university advertising the competition. I think everyone’s first reaction when seeing that only one person receives the award is that the chances of winning are slim. However the experience gained from applying is invaluable and anyone should give it a go as I definitely surprised myself by getting through each stage.
In order to apply I had to submit an application form with two short essays about how my studies contribute to a low carbon future.  Take your time to write these and think about how you could make yours stand out.
Here is a selfie of me and Torness nuclear power station
which I was very sad to leave as it has such a friendly atmosphere.

The next step was to complete a range of online tests. This included numerical reasoning, logical reasoning and workplace role play tests. These tests provide good training and practice as they are used by most companies in their application procedures.
I was thrilled a few weeks later when I got an e-mail inviting me to an assessment centre in a lovely hotel in Cheltenham Spa. The event ran throughout the whole day, so we were very busy going from one group exercise to another and completing in class tests.
There were three group exercises. The assessors were mainly looking for soft skills here.
·         The first was a problem based group task in which we had to demonstrate leadership and innovation in the way we approached the problem. There was a lot of time pressure so it was essential to remain composed and not be scared to propose alternative solutions. I would recommend you take your time to read through all the documents provided as it is easy to skim read and miss some crucial information.
·         The second task was to build a wind turbine. This gave us the opportunity to show leadership skills by delegating a job to each team member. Organisation and coordination was necessary in order assemble the wind turbine under a certain time.
·         The third group exercise took the form of a debate where there was no right or wrong answer. The assessors were looking for how we interact in a group discussion and how we come up with original ideas. It is important to listen and let others speak as well as getting your own ideas across.

We also completed two in class tests, one numerical reasoning test and one logical reasoning test. We were all quite drained at the end of the day so were thrilled to be able to use the hotel’s gym and pool facilities. We were treated to a networking dinner where we had the opportunity to meet current EDF Energy employees on the graduate scheme who shared their experience of working for the company.
A couple of weeks later, I couldn’t believe it when I was told that I had been selected as one of the ten finalists, I had made it through yet another hurdle. I was invited to the ceremony in Canary Wharf where we enjoyed a champagne reception and a delicious three course meal. We also had the chance to meet industry representatives who shared their career paths. The event was hosted by no other than the broadcasting legend Sir Trevor MacDonald who gave us an inspiring speech. The atmosphere suddenly changed as everyone was excited in anticipation of the announcement of the winners. I was over the moon when my name came up on the screen and Sir Trevor MacDonald called me to the stage. I walked over, shook his hand and received the award. I was very proud to have made it to the end and very excited at the prospect of starting my summer internship.
I spent seven weeks in EDF Energy’s Barnwood office working on various projects. I was delighted to see that some of the finalists also got a summer internship. I was given interesting tasks to complete and felt like I was making a real contribution to the teams I was working for. I even managed to take my projects further and do more than my initial target! My internship gave me an insight into the dynamics of a huge company, how different departments overlap emphasising on the importance of communication and collaboration between teams.
I also spent two weeks working on EDF Energy’s Torness nuclear power station in Scotland. It was amazing to see in real life what I had until then only studied on paper and to see the huge scale of the reactor and all its auxiliary apparatus. It was remarkable to see how all the plant areas were interconnected and highly dependent on each other. I went around plant with various powerful instruments, taking measurements and inspecting equipment. I had a much more hands on experience and even got to enter radioactive controlled areas after completing appropriate training. I was warmly welcome by every team I worked with which made my stay even more enjoyable. Working for EDF Energy over the summer was such an amazing experience , I am grateful to have been given this opportunity.
Here is a beautiful view from Torness Nuclear power station.

I am now looking forward to my other prizes which include a lunch with a station director and a visit to a nuclear power station in France.
My advice to all prospective candidates is to make the most of this opportunity. Even if you don’t win the competition, the whole application process and assessment centre provide excellent experience. It is incredibly useful to go through this recruitment process as it is similar to that of most companies. My whole experience has been exceptionally beneficial; I worked on a range of interesting projects, met inspiring people and expanded my knowledge of the nuclear industry.  I had a wonderful time and look forward to applying to EDF Energy’s graduate scheme.
Celine Dischamps, University of Manchester
Low Carbon Energy Undergraduate of the Year Award 2014

Think this could be you for 2015? Apply now at:

The 2014 Management Undergraduate of the Year Award winner on 10 things learnt (or didn’t learn!) from her internship with Enterprise Rent-a-Car!

I’ll be honest - as a student searching for internships my questions were quite straightforward: where will I be based, how much will  I be paid, and what will I be doing on a daily basis.

My placement year has been different in that I have had the chance to work in different companies, in different sectors and industries. However Enterprise alone has taught me that the daily tasks you’ll be completing and where you’re living are not nearly as important as the type of company you’re working for, what the people are like and whether you’re actually going to enjoy working for that company. To illustrate this, the following 10 points are what I have learnt during my time with Enterprise.

1.       There is so much more to Enterprise than renting cars.
 Enterprise employees will tell you this all the time, but it wasn’t until I got here that I realized it was true.  In fact, in my first 4 weeks I almost forgot I was working for a car rental company, because there are so many different areas of the business to get involved with, and while rental is a part of most of them, very few of them are concerned solely with car rental.

2.       They live by their values and mission statement, at all levels of the company.
 Ask any employee what affects the way they make their decisions and they’ll tell you- we first ask is it right for our customers, for our employees? Then we’ll assess whether it makes financial sense and how it can grow the business. Because if we take care of the first part, the second part will take care of itself.

3.       You’ll be asked for your contribution and opinion from day one.

You won’t be expected to know the right answer, but you will be expected to give an answer, and demonstrate your ability to learn. Making mistakes is a key part of development, and while we all make them, what is important is that we make mistakes early on, and learn from them. 99% of Enterprise employees started as Management Trainees, so you won’t find anyone looking own their noses at you. Your contribution is valued, and will be taken on board by everyone from a fellow intern, to senior management.

4.       I still don’t know how to use a copier
 And the only time I have had to use a printer is when I’ve needed to print something out.

5.       They want you to succeed
 Enterprise is going places- literally and figuratively, and it wants you to, too. They want you to get as much as you can out of your career, and will help you to get it through training, mentoring, support, and providing new and exciting opportunities every day. When you come back as a Management Trainee after an internship you’ll pick up where you left off – Enterprise won’t ask you to redo training you did on your internship, meaning you’re able to progress even quicker.

6.       They’re honest
 About everything. Expectations, work, themselves. Enterprise is a case of what you see is what you get. And that really is quite refreshing.

7.       You’ll get out what you put in- and more

The more you put into your work the more return you get. But think of it like compound interest instead of a flat rate- the more you go over and above, the more you’ll get back.

8.       There is no such thing as a set career path
 Most people I spoke to didn’t start out in the department they’re currently in. The beauty of the Enterprise training scheme is that it gives you experience in- and so a chance to ‘try before you buy’- all areas of running a business, whether it be rental, HR, Insurance or any other part of the company you can think of. It will set you up to be a success in whichever area you choose, but additionally, once you get there, gives you the basic training allowing you to change and move into a different department completely if you wanted to.  This is perfect for someone like me, who knows they want a career in business, but isn’t sure what area.

9.       It’s a big company, with a family feel
 In many companies you can feel like a very small fish in a big pond, as it can be hard to see how what you’re doing is having an impact on the business. Not at Enterprise. You’re given the chance to make a change, and you’ll see how what you’re doing affects your branch, region, country, and the business overall. It’s this understanding of the bigger picture that engages Enterprise employees at all levels, and helps them to see where and how they can do things differently.

10.   I really have no idea how everyone in the office takes their coffee
Interns don’t make the coffee and tea here. Enterprise knows that the more
you allow employees to do something brilliant, the more often they will
surprise you and do something truly amazing.

Samantha Dartnall, Loughborough University
Management Undergraduate of the Year Award, winner

Follow @erac_jobs for more great advice and insight to Enterprise Rent-a-Car and see if you could be the next winner here:

Sunday, September 28, 2014

One of the 2014 winners of the Undergraduate of the Year Awards tells why YOU should enter for 2015!

Last year I won the Engineering Undergraduate of the Year Award sponsored by EON!

If you are reading this, you are probably thinking of applying yourself and I definitely encourage you to do so! I applied pretty much on a whim, I received and email and thought I might as well have a shot!

The initial stage of the application is some situational online tests, there a quite  a few of these, so persevere and don’t leave them until the last minute as you might run out of time!

If you are lucky enough to get through, the next round is an assessment day at the EON training facility. This is an interesting day, you will meet some of the other candidates and EON employees. The other candidates were great company, really interesting to talk to and makes the day less daunting! The assessment is a good experience, it includes a number of different tasks, some of which 
I found harder than others.

If you attend the assessment day, you then have a good chance of going to the awards ceremony, as the final top ten candidates are all invited. It’s a very impressive venue, Canary Wharf’s East Wintergarden, with an impressive host, Sir Trevor MacDonald! You are very well looked after at the ceremony, great food and conversation and it is a great opportunity to meet a huge range of students.

Alan Middup, MEng Mechanial Engineering, University of Sheffield
Engineering Undergraduate of the Year Award, winner

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Jamie Cooper-Higgins discusses winning the Scotland Undergraduate of the Year Award 2014 and how maximising his experience at university has paid off…

I heard about the Undergraduate of the Year Awards through both the StrathclydeCareers Service and also TARGETjobs Events who run the awards. I decided to enter because it was simply too great an opportunity to pass up.

I could spend the time completing the application process for a shot at the next stage and ultimately winning, or I could not try and regret never knowing… It was worth the effort then and in retrospect definitely worth the effort now!

There are 12 different categories in the Undergraduate of the Year Awards which all follow a similar, but not identical, application process. I applied for the Scotland Undergraduate of the Year Award 2014 and first of all had to complete an online application, then a comprehensive set of SHL psychometric tests designed by the event sponsor The Corporate Executive Board Company (CEB).
We were then shortlisted, and I was invited to an assessment centre with Information Technology group CGI, at their UK offices in Reading. There I was assessed on all the soft skills they were looking for in a graduate. Along with the other finalists in my category I was then invited to attend the award ceremony but had no idea I had won until it was announced.

Although academic performance was a factor in winning, it definitely wasn’t the only one. The awards recognise drive and ambition in candidates, shown through extra-curricular activities and life experiences. I’ve tried to maximise my experience while at university through part-time work, marketing internships, military service with the RAF – and last summer as a Saltire Scholar I interned with Barclays Wealth & Investment Management in New York for two months. I’ve not had any of these opportunities handed on a plate to me, and I’ve had to work for them, but I’m very grateful towards organisations like the Saltire Foundation for working so hard to offer these amazing opportunities.

Attending the Grand Final in Canary Wharf, London, was absolutely fantastic! Sir Trevor McDonald hosted the awards and it really was an honour to accept the award from such a distinguished public figure. His speech about the trajectory of his own career and the merits of hard work and determination really resonated with everyone in the room. The whole episode will definitely stick with me forever.
The event was very well organised – The food and drink was really impressive and I’m very grateful I was able to share it with all of the fellow finalists and CGI staff on our table; it really was a fantastic day.

The whole experience has undoubtedly been worth it and I’m glad I went for it. The benefit of being able to put the accolade on my CV is great and time will tell what kind of doors that opens. On a personal level it was great to be recognised for the work I’ve put in over the last few years to make it happen.

Jamie Cooper-Higgins, Marketing, University of Strathclyde
Scotland Undergraduate of the Year winner 2014

Do you think this could be you for 2015? Apply to the awards here:

Friday, September 26, 2014

Editorial internship - the highs and lows

Us interns are coming towards the end of our time at TARGETjobs now, and it seems that we’ve experienced the full range that this placement has in store. So I thought I’d offer a quick taster of what we’ve been doing for anyone who’s interested:

The highs – interviews
Every now and again we interview industry practitioners, to give our readers a glimpse into what it’s actually like to be an intern at an investment bank or trainee doctor...
Once we’ve got a name and a date in our diaries we’ll do some research into the company and industry so we can frame some questions. We’re always looking for an interesting angle or storyline. There are usually some industry trends to talk about – sustainability comes up a lot in construction and civil engineering, for instance. But you don’t really know how the article’s going to turn out until you’ve actually done the interview. 

Some of the interviews they do here are more structured – sometimes you’re trying to find out about a particular sector or area of practice and there’s a very detailed set of topics you need to cover. But other interviews tend to go off piste – if someone’s got an interesting story to tell it’s better to follow that up than to cut them short so you can get through the forty remaining questions on your list.

Doing the interviews is one of the more enjoyable aspects of the job – it’s always nice to speak to someone who’s really enthusiastic about what they do. And it’s great to see the article when it gets laid up for print once you’ve gone through the approval process.

The lows – job descriptions
Long ago, in the mists of TARGETjobs history, there lived a wise woman who was the font of knowledge about all jobs. Determined to pass on her learning to younger generations, she worked long and hard to produce approximately 330 job descriptions . Thanks to her noble efforts, we students panicking about our job hunt (or lack thereof) can educate ourselves about the options out there.

But we live in a changing world, which means that the job description database often needs updating. Professional bodies, trade magazines and exam boards have a habit of disappearing or changing their names and it falls to us interns to work out what’s new.
 I’ll admit it’s not the most exciting work, but at least it means that when I meet automotive engineers, accountants and biomedical scientists , the ‘what do you do?’ conversation won’t be quite so awkward.  That said, if anyone with a job title starting with a letter other than A, B or C tries to talk to me I’ll be completely lost – my quota stops with “courier”.

By Elizabeth Bingham 
Editorial Intern

Derek Bekoe only entered the Undergraduate of the Year Awards 2014 to see how far he could go…

Being announced as the winner of the IT and Computer Science Undergraduate of the Year Award by Sir Trevor McDonald at Canary Wharf was a memorable experience for me. I applied just to see how far I could go and it feels great to have won.
The application process was a smooth one with a few different stages. The first stage was an application form asking for some basic information and the completion of online tests. The final stage was an assessment centre held in London. The day was enjoyable with presentations, group exercises and an interview. Ten students were invited to the final, of which I won.

The prize was a guaranteed place on the Marks & Spencer software engineering graduate scheme and a technology hamper. The hamper was delivered a couple of weeks after the awards ceremony. Amongst lots of other really interesting technology, it contained an Xbox One with Kinect, Amazon Kindle Fire HD tablet, Apple TV and Pebble smart watch. I use the Pebble watch every day and it has brought about some interesting conversations about wearable technology. I've made some great contacts with software engineering staff at Marks & Spencer and look forward to finding out more about the graduate scheme.

Since the awards, I have completed the Bristol PLuS Outstanding Award at my university which recognises students demonstrating high leadership, commercial awareness and problem solving skills. I am also currently completing my internship in Technology at J.P. Morgan.

I'd like to thank TARGETjobs Events and Marks & Spencer for the award; the experience was great!

Think this could be you for 2015? Apply to the Awards

Winner of the 2014 Law Undergraduate of the Year Award urges you to apply for 2015!!

Unfortunately, I was unable to undertake the prize of a vacation scheme with Mayer Brown but only as a result of already having many schemes in place for the summer.

Vacation scheme are a fantastic experience and I have learned a great deal through mine. For example, whilst sitting in the banking department at one firm I gained insight into the role of a law firm when acting for both lending financial institutions as well as a wide variety of borrowers, including companies and private equity houses. As a vacation scheme student I was able to perform typical trainee tasks such as creating an index for the Bible to the transaction, drafting board minutes and even sending emails to clients requesting documents and signatures.

While you’re expected to do some work on a vacation scheme, the majority of your time is taken up by your supervisor teaching you the fundamentals of the practice area, attending various practice area presentations and, of course, attending the many social events organised by the firm.

I would definitely recommend anyone considering a career as a solicitor to undertake a vacation scheme. Not only are they enjoyable but they also give you a very good insight into the firm, allowing you to make an informed decision about whether or not you wish to work at the firm that you wouldn’t be able to make if you applied directly through a training contract application. You also have the opportunity to experience a variety of practice areas. For example through my roles I have also worked Restructuring and Insolvency; while the Banking lawyers help set up the loan agreement, the Restructuring lawyers are on hand when something goes wrong, namely the borrower’s inability to pay back the debt under the terms of the facility agreement. I never appreciated just how many things a lawyer has to consider on any particular matter, both legally and commercially, until I undertook these schemes!

Finally, if you’re considering a career in law then I would strongly recommend that you apply for the Law Undergraduate of the Year Award! Mayer Brown is a first rate international law firm and undertaking a scheme there will not only be a very enjoyable and informative experience but it will also significantly increase your chances of obtaining a training contract at the firm. This is because you have three weeks to impress the firm instead of just a few hours at an assessment day! Winning the Award in itself is a highly regarded achievement and even being shortlisted in the top ten will look fantastic on your CV!

I never imagined I had a chance of winning this Award but here I am so I strongly urge you all to apply, you have nothing to lose! Good luck with your application.

Alexander Hughes, Law, University of Southampton
Law Undergraduate of the Year Award 2014, Winner

Do you think this could be you for 2015? Apply to the Awards here:

TARGETjobs career advice weekly roundup

Hello everyone, 

Welcome to this week's career roundup post. 
This week we have a diverse range of career advice for you! 


To start things off, here are this week's upcoming graduate job and internship deadlines:

If you want to gain some invaluable experience and bolster your CV then look no further - apply today for this week's upcoming internship deadlines. If you're interested in IT, business, marketing or performing arts you should check out these work experience placements here.

If it's a graduate job you're looking for, then look no further. If you're interested in starting a career in travel agency work, IT and technology, management or business then there is a wealth of opportunities for you this week. Check out what's available here.

Now, onto career advice...

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

James Ellis won the 2014 Languages Undergraduate of the Year Awards, he tells about his prize winning VIP trip to the European Parliament!

As I write, the sounds and smells of salesmen pushing their carts of exotic fruits along the streets drift through the window; zapote, lulo, guanábana, mamoncillo.... I am writing from Colombia, where I have been working as an interpreter for a group of human rights lawyers, and I am reminded just how lucky I am to have studied a languages degree; one which opens up thousands of these amazing opportunities to me. This, after another fantastic experience earlier in the summer, thanks to the Undergraduate of the Year Awards. 

Back in June, I made my way down to London to start a really eye-opening, informative week getting to know more about the EU and its institutions. Despite a hideously early start to catch the first train to London, I was met at the FCO offices on Whitehall for a useful day of preparation for the online tests used in the EU's selection process. 

On Tuesday, I met with various people working at the EU's UK representation office in Europe House. Attending meetings, and speaking to several of the different departments working together under the same roof was a fascinating insight into the day-to-day running of a national representation, spreading information of what the EU is up to in the UK, and vice versa. Wednesday morning was an example of the reverse, when I sat in on a video conference call between the translation departments in Zagreb, The Hague, Berlin, Paris, and Vilnius, and the head office in Brussels. 

Later that afternoon I caught the Eurostar to Brussels, where I was met off the train and taken straight to  the European Parliament to meet one of my new local MEPs, on the back of an alarming result in the European Elections. 

Thursday was spent visiting various Directorate Generals and departments within the different institutions, meeting with interns and full-time employees alike from the European Parliament, the Commission, the Council... It provided an excellent opportunity to find out what each Institution does and what each DG inside that Institution is responsible. Meeting with actual people meant I also got first-hand accounts of how the employees wound up in Brussels, and different career progressions they have undergone. That evening I attended an informal get together of Brits working, or hoping to work, in the various Institutions, and again it was great to learn of their experiences while applying for positions in Brussels.

All too soon, Friday came around, and it was time to head back to the real world (via a quick holiday in Portugal!), although not before a couple more final meetings with the translation and interpreting services. Listening in from the interpreting booths I was able to experience what it would be like to work as a conference interpreter for some of the most important meetings in the world. I was able to properly get a sense of how this great European family is able to communicate with each other, despite having 24 official languages and numerous other smaller languages within its borders. All thanks to a dedicated team of translators and interpreters, right there in Brussels. 

And so it was, that I left on the Friday evening Eurostar back to London with a heavy heart, although with lots to think about and fond memories of an unforgettable trip, all made possible thanks to the Undergraduate of the Year Awards.

James Ellis, Languages Undergraduate of the Year Award
Modern Languages, Newcastle University

Think this could be you for 2015? Apply to the Awards here: