December 20, 2017, by Abigail Bennetts
Why Failing an Assessment Centre Revealed I Was Pursuing the Wrong Career
by Abigail Bennetts, third-year, psychology
My “I-need-an-internship” panic began back in the first term of second year.
I had come to the conclusion that I didn’t want to pursue the traditional route into clinical, educational or forensic psychology after finishing my psychology degree, but a career in business sounded appealing. After a brief look into careers in the HR sector, I decided that was what I wanted to do. But without any real basic business knowledge and absolutely zero experience under my belt, I figured I had to get some, and quick.
Making my first application
At this time, my boyfriend, whose economics degree included a year-long placement, was applying for what seemed like hundreds of internships for his upcoming year in industry. He mentioned he’d applied for an internship at Disney, and that there were ones going in HR as well. So I wrote a cover letter to Disney the same day.
I booked a CV review appointment, where Careers helped me to turn my basic CV into a skills-based, business-focused CV, and sent off my application. I was gobsmacked when two months later, I got a call inviting me to an assessment centre at Disney HQ in London!
Going to the assessment centre was terrifying
I’d barely been to a proper interview before, let alone an assessment centre. Coupled with the fact that I thought that this internship would fast-track me into the career I thought I desperately wanted, I felt completely out of my depth. I did not know what to expect.
However, once I arrived at Disney HQ, I felt a lot more relaxed. The 11 other candidates were lovely, and the day consisted of a group task, an organisational and written skills test, and two individual interviews.
We also had a tour around Disney HQ. This included seeing their own private cinema where they preview the latest Disney films weeks before the general public! I left Disney that day on a high. I’d survived my first proper interview, and first ever assessment centre (and secretly, I thought I’d done quite well).
A week later, I received a call from Disney…
They said that I did fantastically in the group activities, and that I was extremely personable and enthusiastic. It was also noted, that I was perhaps too enthusiastic about the brand – oops. They went on to say that I seemed to lack a passion for the role itself, and that for that reason, I was unsuccessful on this occasion.
She advised me to secure some generalist HR experience before reapplying, but I didn’t really hear this at the time, because I was already crying.
After a few days processing the feedback I’d received, I decided I needed to work out my next career step. Did I really want to go and get some generalist HR experience, or was dealing with employee holiday pay, sickness leave and other things something that didn’t particularly interest me? Perhaps the reason I didn’t show much passion for a role in HR, was because I didn’t really have any.
It suddenly dawned on me that I’d rushed into settling for a career in HR
I was so panicked about not having a career plan at 20 years old, I’d forced myself into thinking HR was for me. It didn’t help that everyone around me seemed to be securing work experience left right and centre too. Since then, I’ve decided that panic-settling on a career sector or role is likely to reduce my chances of being happy and successful.
Instead, I’ve exclusively engaged in work experience and extra-curricular activities that I enjoy, without a specific career path in mind. My assessment centre at Disney showed me that you can still get far with no specific experience. It is a passion for the role AND the brand, that employers are looking for.
For now, I’m going to keep looking into different career paths, work experience opportunities and volunteering, but based around what I enjoy doing. I figure if I keep doing this, and trust the system, I’ll eventually work out my next step.
Although every time I watch a new Disney film, I’m gutted I’m not watching it in Disney HQ’s private cinema, I am so grateful I had the opportunity to attend that assessment day. It’s given me the chance to properly figure out which career I will really enjoy. I also know when it comes to my next assessment centre, I’ll be ten times as confident.
Additional tip! If you’re nervous about going to an assessment centre, read this blog post. I did and it really helped me to prepare.
Want to get your CV reviewed before a job application? Or need to brush up your skills for an assessment centre? Log into your My Career account to view upcoming events and book appointments.