Win a placement with Enterprise Rent-A-Car as Management Undergraduate of the Year
The TARGETjobs Management Undergraduate of the Year award offers the chance to nab a work placement with Enterprise Rent-A-Car. Not only will the award make your CV sparkle in the eyes of even the most zealous recruiter, but you’ll also be able to pop the Enterprise experience under your belt and have the chance to visit its operations in the US. The top management undergraduates will also attend a glittering awards ceremony at Canary Wharf, which has been hosted in the past by Sir Trevor McDonald and Fiona Bruce.
To enter you’ll need to pass through an application process as you would in the world of work, starting with an application form. As always TARGETjobs is here to help with tips on how to make you stand out from the crowd.
There are three questions on the Management Undergraduate of the Year application form and they’re all looking at your leadership skills:
- Describe a time when you have had to demonstrate your leadership skills. What was the situation and what success did you have? What challenges did you face? What did you learn about yourself as a leader?
- Describe your university achievements so far outside of academia – eg your extracurricular activities, working while at university, sports volunteering.
- Explain the difference between management and leadership.
Think about the answer to question three first. Once you understand the differences between leadership and management you should find it much easier to narrow down your own experiences and answer the other two questions.
Explain the difference between management and leadership
The Wall Street Journal suggests that leaders inspire and motivate while managers take care of planning and organisation. This is a good baseline to work from, but don’t rely too heavily on text from commonly available internet sources when filling in the Undergraduate of the Year application. Recruiters are interested in your opinion and will be able to spot a quoted internet answer.
There are easy ways to get your head around the differences between leadership and management. Well-known leaders and managers from the business world today are one possibility. For example, on The Apprentice, Lord Alan Sugar might be considered the ‘leader’ in such a situation, but who are the managers and how do their roles differ? Does Lord Sugar handle day-to-day logistics? Do his ‘managers’ have free reign to voice opinion and push through ideas? Similarly, Steve Jobs was considered one of the great business leaders of his generation but few people would refer to him as a manager.
In your answer, consider the sort of job that you would be applying for in future (perhaps at Enterprise), and who would be in a position of leadership/management around you. Identify each person’s responsibilities and what their goals would be and use that to illustrate your point. For example, if you were researching positions at Enterprise, perhaps you would look at the company and its managers on LinkedIn or watch the staff video interviews on the Enterprise website.
Describe a time when you have had to demonstrate your leadership skills. What was the situation and what success did you have? What challenges did you face? What did you learn about yourself as a leader?
Enterprise is sponsoring the award, so look at its website and see what it looks for in management trainees. Leadership experience related to sales, management or customer service should be a priority if you have it.
Think about incidences where you have displayed leadership in the past and identify the time when you most effected change and achieved results. Look for evidence of actions you took, people management skills and measurable results. Your title may have been president, chairman or even ‘ruler absolute’, but these can be superficial positions if your leadership didn’t achieve something new. The titles sound nice, but the subcommittee leader for litter picking may have required a lot more practical logistical expertise, interpersonal communication skills and organisational skills.
Don’t forget about your experience of teamwork; there is often crossover with leadership. Group projects as part of your university course are fine as examples, but you won’t stand out much from your peers. Perhaps you acted in a team as part of a university society, whether it was fundraising, handing out leaflets, signing up new members or taking care of basic admin. If there was ever a time when you pushed a new idea through a group, it’s possible that you could use this as an example of leadership.
Lay out your example clearly
Enterprise has given you a hint as to how you should lay out your answer. Read the question on the application form. It’s clear they’re looking for: the situation, the process, the challenges (potential obstacles) and the results of an activity which demonstrated leadership. We’ve included a handy checklist below to make sure you’ve covered all the relevant points.
- Remember that as a leader you are taking a responsibility for yourself. Don’t refer to other people as ‘problems’ or ‘challenges’ unless matters were resolved through your people management skills. If things ended badly, don’t attempt to shift the blame onto other team members.
- Make sure you cover key decisions that you made and try to quantify how effective they were.
- Include instances where you have motivated people. Explain what you did and what the result was.
- Try to quantitatively and qualitatively analyse results. An increase in sales of set number of pounds is a good start, but two customer letters of thanks for great service will equally demonstrate success.
- Explain how you organised your working process and how you kept track of the progress of a given project.
- Did you give feedback to your teammates? How did you collect this fairly, and how did you relay it to your team?
- Think about how you identified problems and took steps to act on or avoid them.
Describe your university achievements so far outside of academia – eg your extracurricular activities, working while at university, sports volunteering
This question gives you the opportunity to provide further evidence of your skills and suitability for the internship. Note that the question asks you for your ‘achievements’, which means that you should base your answer around specific occasions/events/tasks that you have accomplished outside of academic life: signing up to a student society wouldn’t necessarily be termed as an achievement, but being part of the team on a stand at a freshers’ fair, personally signing up 50 new members, would be. Having a part-time job as a retailer wouldn’t necessarily be thought of as an achievement, but serving double the number of people you’d usually serve in a day within an acceptable timeframe and with good customer service would be.
When describing each achievement, you need to explain why it was an achievement and the actions you took to ensure your endeavour was successful. Enterprise Rent-A-Car recruiters want applicants to the management TARGETjobs Undergraduate of the Year award ‘to tell us how you have gained skills and knowledge from any work experience, previous internships, volunteering, extracurricular activities and university societies’, so make sure that you write about the skills you developed through pursuing your achievement and the knowledge you picked up: this knowledge could be technical, about people or about yourself.
If you are struggling to prioritise which achievements to include, it might be helpful to focus on ones which develop the particular skills Enterprise values among employees. You can see these in Enterprise’s advert in The Guardian UK 300.