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 (ERAC). 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 ERAC 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? (Max 500 words)
- Imagine you have received the coveted 'UK Manager of the Year Award' in 2025. Why did you receive the award and what are the circumstances under which you were nominated? (Max 500 words)
- Explain the difference between management and leadership. (Max 500 words)
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 ERAC), 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 ERAC, perhaps you would look at the company and its managers on LinkedIn or watch the staff video interviews on the ERAC 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?
ERAC 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.
If you’ve started your own small business at university or you’ve worked a part-time sales job handling accounts you’ve got a head start on what you can write, but the recruiters at ERAC will also be looking to see that you can analyse the processes that you go through and are capable of self-reflection and adaptation.
Think about incidences where you have displayed leadership in the past and remember you will need to back these up with specific details for each occasion. Your title may have been president, chairman or ruler absolute, but these can be superficial positions. Make sure you look for evidence of actions you took, people management skills and measurable results. 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
ERAC 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.
Imagine you have received the coveted 'UK Manager of the Year Award' in 2025. Why did you receive the award and what are the circumstances under which you were nominated?
Keep your future aspirations realistic. Stick to authentic management practices in a real life setting and try to explain what personal qualities you have that will contribute to the role. They’re not looking for how big a fantasy you can create, but rather want to see what skills you already naturally possess – whether that be a talent for logistics, excellent people skills or something else (backed up with examples in case you’re quizzed). They then want to see how you hope to develop over the coming decade. Think about the skills that you already possess and how you would expand on them in future. Use the ERAC website to guide you on the skills it looks for in an employee, and explain them using the same method as above.
Good luck with the Undergraduate of The Year Awards.