What makes a Rolls-Royce Undergraduate of the Year?

Are you applying for one of Rolls-Royce’s Undergraduate of the Year Awards? Hear from a recruiter on what they’re hoping to see in your application.

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If you haven’t heard of the Undergraduate of the Year Awards, it’s an annual competition for university students in the UK. The best part? Each award is partnered by a graduate employer, with a significant prize up for grabs.

In 2022, the deadline to apply is 31 January and Rolls-Royce is the partner for three awards:

All three winners will receive a ten-week paid summer internship starting in June/July 2022, an Apple watch and Rolls-Royce branded gifts. They’ll also spend a working day shadowing a Rolls-Royce leader.

To find out more about each of the awards and the entry requirements, click on the links to the awards above. Once you’re ready to apply to the award of your choice, don’t forget to return to the tips below from Ellie Long, early careers lead at Rolls-Royce.

What is the Undergraduate of the Year application process?

The application process is similar to what you can expect when applying for internships and graduate jobs – making it great practice for your future job applications. You’ll start by registering your details online and answering three application questions set by Rolls-Royce. You’ll then sit some online tests or, for the award celebrating neurodiverse talent, one personality questionnaire.

If you are successful in getting through to the next stage, you will be invited to a virtual assessment centre with Rolls-Royce. ‘Beforehand, we have an online platform where you can watch videos and get familiar with everything before you start the assessment centre,’ explains Ellie. On the day, you’ll usually take part in an interview, technical assessment and a presentation. ‘We also like to give you the opportunity to meet some of our senior leaders, so there’ll be some networking and Q&A sessions,’ adds Ellie.

To help you in your application and assessment centre, here are Ellie’s five top tips for how to approach the process.

Know your purpose

‘We are looking for individuals who have a clear purpose,’ says Ellie. ‘A purpose is individual and there is no right or wrong answer, but our Undergraduate of the Year winners will be clear on what they want to achieve with their career and the difference they want to make.’

If you’re not sure what your purpose is, take some time to reflect on this. If you’re struggling on your own, try talking it through with friends or family. Once you know your purpose, think about how you can demonstrate this purpose through your studies, work experience or hobbies.

You will also find it helpful to research Rolls-Royce’s purpose and vision. What is important to the company and why is this also important to you?

Show how you demonstrate Rolls-Royce’s values and behaviours

Rolls-Royce’s values and behaviours are at the heart of everything the company does, so you’ll want to show how you might have demonstrated these at uni, work or in day-to-day life.

Its values are:

  • Trusted to deliver excellence
  • Act with integrity
  • Operate safely.

Meanwhile, its behaviours are:

  • Embrace agility
  • Be bold
  • Pursue collaboration
  • Seek simplicity.

You can find out more about Rolls-Royce’s values and behaviours on its careers website .

In your application, consider what examples you could draw on. Perhaps you have delivered excellence for customers in your part-time job. Or maybe you have collaborated with other students on a new project for a university society.

All your experiences, big or small, are important

We often hear from previous Undergraduate of the Year finalists that they were worried they weren’t ‘impressive’ enough to be shortlisted. However, they soon realised that this couldn’t be further from the truth. ‘The purpose of the Undergraduate of the Year Awards is to celebrate students from all backgrounds and their achievements,’ says Ellie. ‘On top of that, we are all very aware of the challenges that the coronavirus has placed on students.’

You certainly don’t need to have done an internship, started your own business or broken a world record to be an Undergraduate of the Year – something that Ellie is keen to emphasise. ‘It isn’t about being big or impressive. It is about your individual story and the things you have achieved. Don’t be afraid to tell your story and showcase what you have done. We want to hear from students from all backgrounds and who have different experiences and values, which is why we have three awards!’

So, don’t dismiss anything you’ve done as ‘too small’ or ‘not relevant’, whether that’s doing a weekly food shop for your vulnerable neighbour during the pandemic, helping to home school your siblings during lockdown, coaching your football team, volunteering for a local charity or campaigning on your university campus for more environmental initiatives. Rolls-Royce places equal value on all these achievements.

It’s OK to talk about the good and the bad

Rolls-Royce wants to hear your personal story and what makes you unique, so it doesn’t want a generic answer that would apply to other students just as much as it does to you. This also means that you don’t need to shy away from talking about the lows as well as the highs, as these may be an important part of your story.

‘Don’t be afraid to tell us about the challenges you’ve faced or times when you have struggled,’ says Ellie. ‘Part of celebrating the success of our finalists is recognising your background and challenges and how you have worked to overcome them.’

Be yourself and don’t overthink your answers

‘A common mistake that we see students make is that they try to be very corporate because they think that’s what Rolls-Royce wants,’ says Ellie. ‘In reality, it’s not. We love the diversity of these awards and what they can bring. We don’t have a standard type of intern or winner, so just be yourself, do your best and don’t try to predict what we want to hear.’

Whether you’re answering the application questions, sitting the personality questionnaire or attending Rolls-Royce’s assessment centre, don’t overthink your answers. ‘The personality questionnaire isn’t a test because there isn’t a wrong answer, adds Ellie. ‘It is simply a way for us to get to know you and your preferences. Don’t overthink your answers and just be honest.’

Find out more and enter the Undergraduate of the Year Awards today.

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