February 8, 2023, by Matthew Lumley
Advantage Award prizes – Top tips for applications and interviews
By Matt Lumley, Nottingham Advantage Award Coordinator
Applications for our prizes are now open. By participating in our prize process, on top of the chance to win a prize, you can gain valuable practice in applications and interviews.
It is an opportunity to celebrate your success and gain extra recognition for the effort you put into your Award modules.
Read on to find our top tips to help you choose the right prize for you and how to approach the process.
Choose the prize based on your Award experiences
We have several employers that sponsor our prizes and it can be tempting to follow the employer that interests you the most. – “I really want to work for Mars, so it will be great to win a prize sponsored by them”.
That is a reasonable thought process – you can have the employer name listed on your CV, meet a company representative at interview and, if you win a prize, get an insight experience with that employer.
Now, we’re not saying that is not a valid reason to apply, but we encourage you to stop and ask yourself – Does my Award experience also match up with the prize topic?
Often we see students that get attracted to an employer, but they struggle in the application/interview as their Award experience does not fit the prize. For instance, they have always wanted to work for a not-for-profit organisation like Save the Children. However, they do not have many Award examples of working with the community to support their responses.
If you are attracted to an employer and your experience matches the prize then great. However, if you think you can relate your experiences better to another prize then we would advise focussing on that one. After all, recognition from any of our employer partners will look good on your CV.
Focus on Advantage Award examples
In the application stage especially, you have limited space to convey your point – 100-150 words for each of the three questions. As with any application, it is important to keep your responses relevant.
It may seem obvious, but these are ‘Advantage Award’ prizes, so we are recognising your achievements through our modules. We enjoy hearing about all your other extra-curricular activities but try to focus on your Award modules.
That does not mean that you cannot refer to experiences outside of your modules. However, still try to relate that experience to something you learnt through the Award. For instance, you have a great example from your part-time job – which was not an Award module. You can still relate this to the scheme – I felt prepared for the job thanks to taking the ‘Transitioning into the workplace’ Award module.
In the interviews, there is more time to talk about your other activities. Therefore, if you really are struggling to think of an Award example to fit the question then you can use another extra-curricular example. However, the more you can use Award examples the better.
Research the employer
One skill employers consistently seem to desire is ‘commercial awareness’. This means being aware about what is happening in the world and your knowledge of the employer to which you are applying.
Employers are sponsoring these prizes, so it is important to show enthusiasm/interest for that company and their activities. This is relevant to all applications and interviews.
Do not just look at the homepage of their website. Deep dive into their projects and activities. Do they have a project that relates to the prize topic? Is there something they are doing that particularly interests you?
Being commercially aware for the prize interviews is good practice for applying for roles in the future. In a close job selection process, it could be the difference between you succeeding or not.
Celebrate your success
Interviews can be nerve-racking, but we are excited to listen to your achievements on the Award. If there is something of which you are particularly proud, then this is your chance to tell us.
Sometimes it may feel that an example seems insignificant. It meant a lot to you, but why would someone else want to hear about that?
We are not necessarily looking for the finished article or who is the best leader overall. It is about how you have used the Award to develop and benefit yourself. You may have been shy and lacking confidence. Therefore, you used the Award to go outside your comfort zone, took on your first leadership role and now feel ready to take on more challenges. That is a success.
Did you have a clear idea what you wanted to do as a career or no idea? Whichever stage you were at, or are still at, if you have used the Award to develop and support your career decisions. That is a success.
Our schemes are for everyone and your reasonings for participating may be different to others. However, that is your journey, so be confident and explain how impactful it has been. We want to hear from you.
Find out more and apply now by the end of February 2023.
Book onto one of our prize information sessions below:
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