Your Corner: From university to the formidable application process


 I’ve just graduated in Psychology from the University of Southampton, and during my summers volunteered as a teacher in China and a ranger on a game reserve in South Africa. After enjoying the many opportunities university presents, I’m looking forward to some new challenges in the world of work!


At university, I always strove to find my own opportunities.  I sought out leadership roles, and even became President of an enterprise society for two years.  I always pushed myself, making every corporate event I led with my committee better than the last. I also worked in my university’s careers department, and spent my summers teaching in China and working on a game reserve in South Africa.  But I also had goals for my degree, and upon achieving that all-important 2:1 I was thrilled when I’d managed to do everything I had hoped to when I set out to university!

Here’s when my next challenge began.

Applying for graduate schemes was like nothing I’d encountered before.  I’d researched companies and role-played for interviews in college.  Although I found online tests difficult to begin with, practicing really helped and soon I was passing those too.  But I’d never had any experience of assessment centres before university, in fact I hadn’t even heard of them!  Soon they became the only barrier between me and my dream graduate schemes.


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I’ll walk in excited at the prospect of getting a job I really want, and only act as my authentic self

It turns out, assessment centres do not come easily to me.  They’re impossible to practice and there’s only limited preparation on the internet.  Although my first assessment centre was definitely the hardest, I hit a brick wall for a while there.  I wondered how I can pass an assessment centre if my feedback is generally good with no patterns of where I’m going wrong?  Self-reflection helped at this point.  I realised that sometimes you just have to give something your all and if it’s right for you then it’ll happen.

Last year was pretty hectic, but I’m glad I applied for graduate schemes then because I laid my ground work of preparation in those unsuccessful assessment centres through giving public presentations, writing draft reports under time pressure, discussing case studies with team mates, and going through rounds of panel interviews.

This time, I have no dissertation to worry about, no society to obsess over, and an abundance of time and energy to dedicate to giving those scary assessment centres everything I’ve got.

I’m going to use my previous experiences as a practice round, and this time when I walk into corporate offices I won’t feel intimidated or pressured to act a certain way.  I’ll walk in excited at the prospect of getting a job I really want, and only act as my authentic self and not as how I imagine my assessors want me to.  What’s the worse that can happen?

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