The TARGETjobs Management Undergraduate of the Year award offers a unique way to design your own summer internship at Enterprise Rent-A-Car, one which will include a week spent at one of the company’s international offices. The top management undergraduates will also attend a glittering awards ceremony at Canary Wharf, which has been hosted in the past by Fiona Bruce, Konnie Huq and Rachel Riley: this a great networking opportunity, as you will meet other finalists and senior representatives from top companies. Enterprise has also been known to offer internships and placement years to impressive students, even if they don’t win – so it is worth applying.
How do you enter the Management Undergraduate of the Year Award?
To enter you’ll need to pass through an application process as you would in the world of work. It includes:
- an online application form with questions (as listed below)
- online tests
- a telephone interview and an assessment centre
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 what you do outside of university. What are you passionate about? What have you achieved? Eg university societies, sports, volunteering, part-time work.
- Explain the difference between management and leadership.
Each have a word limit of 350 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.
How do you 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.
So give your personal take. It might help to think about well-known or lauded leaders and managers. 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.
How do you describe when you have demonstrated your leadership skills?
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.
Choosing your example
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 examples 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 successful results of an activity that demonstrated leadership. We’ve included a handy checklist below to make sure you’ve covered all the relevant points.
- 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.
How do you describe your achievements outside of your university work ?
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 and with good customer service would be. Make sure that you write about the skills you developed while working towards the achievement and the knowledge you picked up: this knowledge could be technical, about people or about yourself.
The question also asks you what you are passionate about. You could write about what inspires you about each activity individually but, given the limited word count, it might be worth drawing together the similarities between your activities and writing about them collectively. Think about what motivates and inspires you: is it helping people, for example, or setting and achieving personal targets?
How do you succeed at the online tests?
The online tests are set by SHL and include a personality quiz, a situational judgement test and an inductive reasoning test. Previous attendees have stressed the importance of following your instincts rather than trying to ‘game’ the system, but to practise all the tests you possibly can to become familiar with the process and time restrictions. The SHL website has free practice tests and our commercial partner AssessmentDay provides both free and paid-for tests.
How do you succeed at the interview and assessment day?
The top 60 candidates who pass the online tests have a 20-minute telephone interview, usually with Ashley Hever, talent acquisition director at Enterprise. The exact questions aren’t disclosed to us, but previous candidates have suggested that the majority of questions are based around you. It would be wise to think about:
- your strengths and weaknesses
- your key achievements and times when you have made a difference
- how you make decisions, take the lead and work in teams
- what inspires and motivates you
- how you deal with setbacks and obstacles.
Of course, you need to do some proper research into business management roles at Enterprise: bear in mind that a management role at Enterprise involves managing and leading people and processes, providing great customer service and maximising sales. Ashley will be seeking candidates who have the potential to succeed in this role. Check out Enterprise’s website for tips and insights from intern and placement students, but make sure that you think of times when you yourself have worked in teams, delivered good customer service, solved problems, organised your work and so on.
For the assessment centre, in particular, keep in mind that Enterprise seeks a ‘yes’ mentality in candidates, so actively contribute to whatever exercises you are given; don’t hang back because of nerves. Previous assessment days have included:
- networking event
- a task to assess your management skills, such as chairing a meeting
- a final interview.
The secret for networking events is to prepare good questions to askand your ‘personal pitch’ and to take an interest in others. If you are given a task such as chairing a meeting, remember that your role as chair is to balance direction and the need to get through the agenda with the ability to allow everyone to have their say.