“Congratulations, you have been shortlisted for the Accenture London Apprentice of the Year Award 2017!”, is how the first line of the email read. I immediately felt slightly apprehensive as I read the details of what was required in order to compete for the prize. The competition was made up of 5 other apprentices who all boasted great achievements from their short time at Accenture. Since joining the scheme in September 2016, I have tried to adopt a ‘just do it’ mentality and so far, I’ve had no regrets with this approach. So, whatever I was being asked to do, big or small, simple or difficult, I was prepared to give it my best shot and keep my fingers crossed!
The task at hand was to deliver a presentation to a judging panel, comprising of several managing directors and various other senior employees. The brief was concise, however I had to include any notable achievements in my role, my degree studies and any other Accenture activities I had been involved in. To put the superiority of the judging panel into perspective, apprentices sit at level 13 within the company and employees work their way up (or down) the levels as they progress, with 1 being Pierre Nanterme’s place as CEO. Managing Directors sit at level 4. The pressure was on and I had to make a positive and memorable impression. I set off planning my presentation that evening, noting down my main achievements on the tube home. Some examples included my degree module grades, successful work I had produced for my project, as well as marketing and recruitment opportunities I had got stuck into, such as taking part in the Apprentice ‘Snapchat Takeover’ (which was such fun!).
We all know the pain of sitting through a dull and wordy PowerPoint. It makes me yawn thinking back to some of the PowerPoints I was made to sit through in school. To avoid this, I aim to keep my presentations engaging and as to-the-point as possible. With this in mind, I like to use infographics and pictures whilst talking in greater detail, as well as bulleted achievements for each section. I may even add the odd cheesy joke in to make sure the audience is still paying attention (and because I often can’t help myself). My presentation ran smoothly and as I had practiced, before it was time for the gruelling part. Questioning.
This was the part I feared most, mainly due to the vast amount of technical questions that I could be asked, however in reality, it wasn’t so bad. After all, who else knew best about the work I had been doing day in, day out? There were several ‘generic’ questions such as “what advice would you give to new joiners at Accenture?” and “Where do you see yourself in x years’ time?”, followed by more difficult, technical questions. These related to my project work and involved explaining how I would improve a robotics tool I was using as well as discussing the benefits of using one piece of software or language over another. There was one question I didn’t feel confident answering and so instead, “I’m sorry, I’ve not used that software in quite a while and can’t remember right now. I’ll get back to you later if I have an answer”, was my response. This calm and honest approach was mentioned during the awards evening and I truly believe this attitude should always be adopted when being questioned/interviewed.
Winning the award gave me a true sense of pride for my achievements thus far on the apprenticeship and has encouraged me to keep working hard – so watch this space.
Lessons to take away: