It all started when I was out for a meal with a friend, knowing that I had to promote myself on a bigger scale but not understanding how at that stage. It all seemed hopeless to me as I was a little fish in a big pond, so like any other student I hit the Facebook app button on my phone to get the usual updates. Unlike most of the time when I get no actual education or insight into the world though the updates of my friends, I saw a post from Student Switch Off. Switch Off is an organisation that I work for in the halls to promote behavioural changes to reduce the carbon waste. It offered an ambassador role for the Mayor’s Low Carbon Prize, an initiative set up by the Mayor’s office to come up with a new product that will reduce carbon emissions in London and win a £20,000 funding for the product. As well as the big prize there was also an internship at Siemens for those applicants that were successful at being shortlisted.
I followed the link it gave me, and sent off my information to be an Ambassador and got an e-mail asking me to attend a training day the next day. I went to the training event still could not get myself to believe this was happening so quickly. Here I was at City Hall on the 9th floor with an amazing view of London. The organisation was superb by the Mayor’s Office, they took us through the competitions guidelines and showing us how to promote it at our various Universities. It was a good networking event as well as I was able to give my business card to a wide variety of students whom ranged from college students to PHD students in London. As the competition went on I was able to promote it in the University through the help of Tarik the student union president, Phil Sainter my module leader whom I sent the e-mail out to all students and May MacKieth working in sustainability for the university. The thing I stressed to literally every student I knew was that even if they were not successful in winning the actual prize, it would look fantastic to enter on your CV. An especially keen student/ friend, Candice Horn was highly enthusiastic in the initiative and as such I e-mailed the Mayors team asking if she could be an ambassador as well for the University. They had no problem with this as she was interested in the topic.
I formed a team with Candice as I had worked with her before. Unfortunately for University of Westminster the exams were earlier then other Universities in London making it harder to work on the competition as my exams did take priority. With careful time management I was able to not only revise for my exams but set aside some time to promote the event. When my exams were over for me and Candice had 2 intensive days of hard thinking on the competition, coming up with a whopping 53 ideas! We shortlisted these down to 3 and hoped for the best. Unlike most stories you read, we did not win the competition, as such we did feel disappointed. It did not stop us however going to the prize ceremony to network and see the winner of the competition.
On the day of the event at the Crystal, one of the most sustainable building in London, we heard talks from Debrah Meaden, Boris Johnson and the CEO of Siemens. I was lucky enough to be awarded the prize for the best ambassador due to my enthusiasm and received an internship this summer for City Hall. Then afterwards I was able to network among the people present, talking to several people from Siemens whom I exchanged business cards with. They rang me up the following day conducting a phone interview for an internship next summer. It was highly insightful to be able to speak to Debrah Meaden, whom is on Dragons Den and one of the leading entrepreneurs in the UK. She told me that students have to put themselves out their in a professional manner, one should not assume to fall into a job but seek to gain experience in every opportunity. She was also delighted with the range of entries in the competitions, claiming that my generation had to fix the problem that her generation caused.
Students at Westminster Business School should understand that it is vital to network, it is fundamental to seize every opportunity that presents itself and seek those opportunities out. The economy is grim at the moment with many students graduating with little chance to secure a job, if you want to see yourself be put to the top of the pile for jobs then apply yourself to everything and anything. Look out for the Mayor’s Low Carbon Prize next year, hopefully though I will be on the winning team next year.
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