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Friday, May 26, 2017

Bronwyn O'Neill, Female Undergraduate of the Year 2014 finalist, sheds some light onto life after the Awards...

I was a top 10 finalist for Rolls Royce's Female Undergraduate of the Year Award 2014. After the award process, I graduated from the University of York in 2015 and a month later moved to Matsuyama City, Japan. I was accepted onto the JET Programme as an Assistant Language Teacher, and since then have been teaching in five rural Elementary and Junior High Schools on the island of Shikoku. The past two years have been a real whirlwind and I've learnt so much - I've now got conversational Japanese language, teaching skills, and a great deal of experience with cross-cultural communication.  I’ve built a good network and I’ve also had some fantastic opportunities to publish some of my travel writing. As well as the professional skills I’ve developed, being in Japan has been a great opportunity for travel, personal development, and making some wonderful friendships. I will finish my time on the programme in August 2017, and although I will be a heartbroken to say goodbye to my wonderful students and life in Japan, I am very much looking forward to starting my career in the UK. I hope to use and continue to develop my language, communication, and creative skills in the new challenges that lie ahead.

Being part of Female Undergraduate of the Year has influenced my career path so far in subtle but noticeable ways. Visits to the Rolls Royce facilities and networking at Canary Wharf definitely opened my eyes to the world of possibilities open to me as a hardworking young professional. Seeing myself on the same level as so many amazingly talented undergraduates also gave me a confidence boost that went a long way towards securing my place on the JET Programme, a competitive and very rewarding graduate scheme. I found the Female Undergraduate award process particularly interesting as I met many high-level women at Rolls Royce and got a unique perspective on a previously male-orientated professional field. It really piqued my interest and heightened my drive towards breaking the glass ceiling.

My advice for prospective applicants is not to underestimate yourself! Make your application personal and give yourself enough time to properly give yourself credit for the great things you’ve already done as an undergraduate. You never know where it might lead you!