By Kewal Lath, 2nd Year Undergraduate Mathematics Student.
Following my first year at university, I had this gut feeling that I could have done more outside of my academic studies and so after this realisation, I decided to start second year running. Putting myself forward for an executive position in one of my favourite societies, taking control of one of their social media accounts, applying for jobs both within and outside the university and so on. Eventually, I came across the Hull Employability Awards. The purpose of the awards is to prepare you for that time when you finish your degree and need to go job hunting, and not just for a part time job, but for an actual career for the next few years of your life! I know, it sounds scary and believe me, even now when I’ve almost completed second year of my degree and will be moving on to what could be my final year, I’m still only partially prepared for the great unknown after university. But had I not signed on and worked my way through the Hull Awards, trust me, I wouldn’t even be at this partially prepared stage.
The process to earn a Hull Award mostly depends on how self-aware you are. Do you know what your strengths are? Your weaknesses? Do you know what motivates you to get out of bed in the morning and be productive each day? Well if you’re able to answer these confidently, without hesitation or any doubt, then you are exceptionally prepared my friend. However, a lot of people will more than likely struggle or hesitate on at least one of these questions and that’s where the Awards come into it. There are currently 5 different awards you can achieve. Civic & Social Responsibility (Participating in and supporting your local community/society), Global Citizenship (Awareness of your place among the global community), Entrepreneurship (Designing/developing an existing or new business), Arts & Culture (Showing creativity and involvement in the arts as well as adapting to new situations) and finally Leadership (Demonstrating organisational skills and guiding/supporting groups of people to achieve a set goal). I myself have been aiming for the Leadership award.
The Awards are split into 2 stages; Core and additional elements. Your first step is to attend an induction where you’ll be talked through the main steps of completing the award. This counts as 1 of your core elements. After this, you’ll then need to complete the other 4 core elements; Submit your CV for review, answer 5 common application questions (which you’re almost guaranteed to be asked every time you apply for a job!), attend a mock interview with a careers adviser to get a feel for what the real thing will be like and finish by writing a reflective statement about yourself, which I’m sure many will agree is possibly the most challenging aspect of the Awards. It certainly was for myself and its mostly down to the fact that a lot of us have trouble writing about ourselves, about our skills, why we have made certain choices towards gaining a career and what we can do to improve gaps in our skill set. Whilst doing this you should also start thinking about the additional elements of the Award. There is a list of at least 11 elements and new ones are being considered each year. From here you’ll need to choose a minimum of 3 additional elements to complete, which can include delivering a presentation, contributing to a society/club or becoming a student ambassador, to name a few of them. There are 3 deadlines, for completion of everything, throughout the year so you don’t need to stress yourself out by adding this to the ever increasing list of assignments and/or projects you’re bound to be doing as part of your course, which only have a single deadline.
Working through the awards has been a challenging experience, which has really shown me exactly what it is I excel in and what I need to improve on before finishing university. I’m far more confident now about seeking new opportunities and not procrastinating when decisions need to made. If you’re looking to grow in confidence when it comes to deciding what career is right for you, looking for a job, or even improving yourself in general for the future, this is definitely something you will want to consider doing. It’s the skills you’ll learn, and improve, by completing this award, which could be the difference between getting that job you really want (and too right deserve after the effort you’ve put in towards getting your degree) and missing the opportunity because another candidate has a more polished CV and refined skill set that they’ve clearly worked on whilst at university.
So, what are you waiting for? Go to hullawards.hull.ac.uk and apply now. Trust me, it will be one of the best decisions you’ll make today and you will not regret it! Did I also mention that since the Hull Employability Awards is part of the university’s Careers, Entrepreneurship and Study Abroad Service, by doing the award, you’ll have the chance to network with future employers. Who knows, you might just impress one (or more) of them and get yourself an internship/placement and/or even possibly a chance at a permanent position in their company after university. It’s definitely a perk, don’t you think?