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Could you be Crowned Undergraduate of the Year?

Q: ‘I don’t think I have a chance of winning – what’s the point in applying?’

A: As one previous finalist said: ‘If not you, then who?’ 

Each year we hear from winners who said they entered on a whim and were amazed to go on to the next stage and ultimately attend the final. We don’t look for a specific amount or type of achievements. The award partners are most interested in hearing about how your experiences have influenced you personally, and why you consider something to be an achievement to you. Each stage of the process is great practice for job applications, and around half of the finalists go on to work with companies they met at the awards! What do you have to lose?

Q: ‘The entry process is too long – why should I stick with it?’

A: We understand that two hours can sound like a lot; however you can always save your progress and break the application down into manageable chunks. We recommend filling in your initial details and looking at the questions – at this point you can then log out and write up your answers, before submitting them when you are ready. You are next invited to take part in some online tests, which you can do on a morning or afternoon that suits you.  

Q: ‘How do I answer the questions set by the award partner?’

A: Make sure you read the questions properly and start off by making a plan to note down your initial thoughts and ideas of what to include. Make sure you use the word count wisely and try and draw on your experience to help you answer the questions. We also recommend getting someone (a friend, housemate, colleague or parent) to proof-read your answers and offer their opinion as they can help to tweak things and might remind you of something else to include.  

Q: ‘I’m nervous about the psychometric testing.’ 

A: Before each test, you have the opportunity to practise and learn how it will work. There are also websites that let you practise different types of psychometric tests for free. You can always ask friends and peers for advice as they may have experienced testing as part of a job application. Check out the TARGETjobs advice on psychometric testing too: https://targetjobs.co.uk/careers-advice/psychometric-tests . 

Q: ‘Will my university studies suffer if I spend time on this instead?’ 

A: Whatever year of study you are in, we want you to prioritise your university work. However, there will be times when you need a break from coursework and revision! Speaking to past finalists and winners, we learned that they used the evenings and weekends to work on their award applications, having spent most of the week attending lectures and completing university work. It’s a good idea to keep a schedule to keep track of all your commitments, and you can plan ahead to book in time for writing your answers and completing the online tests.

Q: ‘I’m not available on the day of the Awards Ceremony Final in 2021.’ 

A: If you can’t join us on 30 April, you could still win the award. If you impress at an assessment centre you may be offered a role, even though you’re unable to attend as a finalist! 

Q: ‘What does ‘the right to work in the UK after graduation’ mean?’ 

A; Due to the prizes offered by each of the award partners, we cannot accept applications to some of the awards if you do not have the right to work in the UK after graduation. This means if you are on a Tier 4 visa then you unfortunately cannot apply to the awards that list this as a requirement. When considering whether you are eligible to apply, please take your current situation into account, rather than what may or may not happen in the future. If you are an EU citizen or have a British passport, then you can apply to all of our awards. If in doubt, contact us and ask.  

Any other questions? Contact the team at undergraduateoftheyear@targetjobs.com

About the awards:

There are 9 different categories this year, each sponsored by an award partner (such as HSBC or L’Oreal) who provides prizes for the winner in the shape of internships, shadowing opportunities and other experiences. Many previous winners and finalists ‘applied on a whim’ and never imagined they would make it to the final. 

Join the previous winners for an online webinar on 14 January at 2pm to hear their experiences.

Register for the webinar

Check criteria and apply

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Queen’s Careers Service Recognised for Excellence as they Support Graduates through Covid-19

The Careers Service at Queen’s has been awarded an AGCAS Membership Quality Standard for their service to students and graduates, as the university climbs the Guardian League table to 11th in the UK for student employability.

The Careers, Employability and Skills Team at Queen’s has been awarded Membership Quality Standard by AGCAS,the expert membership organisation for higher education student career development and graduate employment professionals.

The award comes as it’s revealed that the University is now ranked 11th in the UK for career prospects after 15 months by the Guardian University Guide 2021

Trevor Johnston, Head of the Careers Service at Queen’s said: “Our AGCAS membership is testament to our ongoing commitment to supporting the best possible career outcomes for our students. This prestigious award is a result of the incredible hard work of staff across the Careers Service who have worked tirelessly to build online provision for career support and guidance amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

 “We recognise that the pandemic is having a huge impact on students and graduates. We remain committed to supporting our students and graduates to access the tools they need to maximise the career opportunities available to them.” 

As a result of government-imposed restrictions in the wake of Covid-19, the Careers, Employability and Skills team at Queen’s moved their entire programme of activity online overnight.

“From offering virtual one-to-one consultations to the increased use of live chats and virtual events and masterclasses, we’ve been able to offer our students and graduates access to the guidance and support they need to develop their employability,” said Mr Johnston. 

Recent Law graduate Norma Taggart said: “The Careers Service is a tailored, student-friendly accessible service. The staff genuinely care about your career path and work tirelessly to help you with practical advice on CV checks, interview skills and techniques to ensure you enjoy great success at Queen’s and beyond.” 

The Careers Service was quick to respond to lockdown, offering targeted support to graduates with the delivery of Gradfest2020, an online careers fair swiftly organised in June, in lieu of the cancelled Northern Ireland Graduate Recruitment Fair. 

“Gradfest2020 comprised bespoke workshops designed to help graduates navigate job uncertainty while developing key employability skills during the crisis. We have also played a key role in linking our students and graduates with our partner organisations, facilitating student-employer networking opportunities in the digital space, such as the upcoming virtual Graduate Recruitment and Placement Fair,” said Mr Johnston. 

He added, “We are proud of our staff and students, particularly our graduating cohort, who have successfully navigated a challenging end to their university experience. With our continued support, we hope they’ll build the tools and resilience they need to enjoy a positive start to their careers.”  

The Graduate Recruitment and Placement Fair is taking place on 21 and 22 October 2020 between 2-m and 6pm. Go.qub.ac.uk/Careersevents

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Queen’s intern abroad designs award-winning fire fighters’ helmet

Imagine you’re a firefighter entering a burning building. The room is so thick with smoke that you can’t see. How do you know which way to turn? This was the challenge set for Queen’s Electrical and Electronic Engineering graduate Sean Hackett before he helped design an award-winning fire fighters’ helmet that tells the wearer which way to turn with a simple buzz to the left or right of the head.  

As an IAESTE (International Association for the Exchange of Students for Technical Experience intern), Sean is enjoying a year placement as an intern at the Visual Intelligence Studio in Carnegie Mellon University in the USA, where he is part of a research team exploring a safer communication tool for firefighters. 

Under Senior Systems Scientist Dr. Yang Cai, the ‘Haptic Helmet’ prototype conceived by Sean’s team won the award for “most commercially viable” at the NIST Haptic Interface for Public Safety Challenge. The contest assessed the use of virtual reality environments as a development tool for creating safety technologies. 

As part of the project, Sean and the team travelled to Denver, Colorado for live demos in a fire fighting training facility. This practical experience allowed them to understand how firefighters navigate unfamiliar paths through burned buildings filled with smoke and noise.

Sean said: “The experience of interacting with real-life firefighters and working independently on solutions has been very interesting for me.”

The prototype helmet

Dr Yang said: “We encourage engineers to find simple solutions that work in the real world. “Although I give them instructions to guide and get them started, I also encourage them to use their own knowledge and experiment because in the real world there is no textbook that tells you what to do and engineers have to work on a lot of problem-solving”.

Along with Dr Yang, Sean and the team worked to develop technology that successfully improves firefighter’s safety and efficiency of in the most challenging and hazardous environments.

Sean with fellow intern Florian Alber

During his internship, Sean has also been helping edit a research paper for presentation on “Indo-Navigation and Fire Fighters Activity Recognition”. 

Dr Yang commented: “Students and participants from western Europe have a brilliant work ethic. Together, they produce research papers and work on innovative solutions, adding value to the lab. Some European interns have great writing style in addition to other talents and that is monumental when it comes to writing and editing research papers for conferences, which is great additional help.”

Sean works on drone projects for public safety alongside a fellow researcher

According to Sean, it wasn’t hard settling into the new environment thanks to the immense support offered at the lab. “Of course, it’s challenging to be away from friends, family, and home. It takes a little while for the initial adjustment of the processes and procedures but once that is done, it’s pretty smooth sailing.”

Sean and Florian check out the Grand Canyon

The year stateside has also given Sean the opportunity to experience American culture and interact with people from diverse backgrounds, participate in social activities and enjoy American adventure and sports.

To find out more about IAESTE internships, visit https://iaeste.org/open_internships

More about Sean’s research

To discover more work and study abroad programmes, visit our Global Opportunities page

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Awards Graduate success graduate training schemes Lloyds Scholarships

Queen’s Graduate Champions Low-Income Students to Aim High

Michael Dallat, one of the first cohort of Lloyds Scholars at Queen’s, is honoured as a social mobility student champion, as he graduates with a BA in Film and Theatre Making 

Michael Dallat, a Film and Theatre Making graduate from Queen’s has been honoured as a runner up in the Lloyds Scholars Champion Award 2020. Michael was nominated alongside scholars from leading universities across the UK and scooped the £1,000 runner up prize in recognition of his work championing the social mobility programme to future applicants.

Queen’s University has been a proud partner of the award-winning Lloyds Scholarship programme since 2016. Designed to support and encourage students from below average income families to study at leading universities, the programme offers students a complete package of financial support, paid internships, business mentorship and the opportunity to develop their employability skills.

As a member of one of the first cohort of Lloyds Scholars at Queen’s, Michael has undertaken two internships, completed over 100 hours of volunteering and secured a place on the Lloyds Graduate Programme for 2020.

Michael Dallat Lloyds

He said: “As a working-class lad from Coleraine, this award makes me very proud. To be in a position to inspire others is something that is really humbling for me. When I applied for the Scholars program back in school, I never thought I’d be a figurehead who others look up to. 

“The Lloyds Scholars programme is a fantastic package. The internships, volunteering and access to a mentor have been immensely beneficial for my career prospects. The internships have allowed me to develop new skills, and network with lots of driven and inspiring individuals. It has really changed my life, on both a personal and professional level.”

Wilma Fee, Director of Academic and Student Affairs at Queen’s, said Michael has inspired hundreds of students to apply for the programme over his three-year tenure. 

She said: “We are proud that Michael has been recognised as a true ambassador for the Lloyds Scholarship programme. As the lead Lloyds representative at our annual Widening Participation Open Days, Queen’s Open Days and University Offer Holder Days between 2017 and 2020, Michael spoke openly and honestly to groups of over 300 students, enthusiastically answering any questions they had and sharing his own personal stories and experiences. Michael has helped raise awareness of the Lloyds programme and raised the aspirations of hundreds of our students.”  

Congratulating Michael, Professor David Jones, Pro Vice-Chancellor for Education and Students said: “I first met Michael in October 2017 when he spoke exceptionally well at the launch of Lloyds Scholars at Queen’s and have followed his progress with pride. Shaping socially conscious and successful graduates sits at the heart of Queen’s and being honoured as a runner up in the Lloyds Scholars Champion Award 2020 is testament to the valuable difference Michael has made. It’s fantastic to see how the experience has benefitted Michael and that it has had such a significant impact on his personal development.”

“On behalf of everyone at Queen’s, I congratulate Michael for graduating and I wish him well as he embarks on the Lloyds Graduate Programme.” 

Discover the Lloyds Scholars programme