My dreaded first blog post.
I graduated in July this year, receiving a solid 2.1 BSc Psychology from the University of Birmingham. Building new wonderful friendships, strengthening old ones, and developing greater independence made my University experience worthwhile. However, I have to confess, that University as a whole, was a brilliant waste of three years. I studied Psychology because it sounded interesting. And you’re right to think that it is interesting, if you, of course, remove the first two years of study which were heavily focused on statistics and biology. Quite frankly, I wasn’t interested. I went to University to follow the crowd, and because having a degree behind me should increase my credibility, and i’m sure that will prove true in many cases. I spent three years having a good time, and when exam-time came, I absorbed text books and journals to get me through. I endured 7am-11pm days in the library figuring out behavioural phenotypes , the inaccuracy of eye-witness testimony, and my favourite – chimpanzees’ understanding of time. Don’t even try asking me how I wrote my dissertation, it’s a blur! I cannot say I came out with much more knowledge of the human mind than I went in, but I certainly came out with some clarity of where to move forward. There is no way I am wasting any more time. I cannot spend my working life in a career that isn’t meaningful, doesn’t push me, get me thinking, interest me, develop my skills, and see me progress. And so, while procrastinating mid-exam period, I stumbled across something wonderful. Something that I wanted more than anything. A place on the New Entrepreneurs Foundation. So, I clicked apply.
The first application was a cover letter. I remember very clearly where and when I wrote it. It was late evening and I was tired after a day of study. So, typically, I awoke the following morning, re-read my already submitted cover letter and…. Spelling mistake one. Spelling mistake two. Did I really put that paragraph first? Why didn’t I mention that! etc etc. Never mind. After all, rejection at this point was commonality. I felt obliged to apply for graduate schemes, and all bar one didn’t see me pass the application process. I convince myself it was because I applied so last minute that the places were full. That may be half true, but i’m also well aware that I didn’t put half as much time in to them as I should have because I wasn’t ready to spend 2-3 years being moulded into the marketeer Marks and Spencer, or L’oreal want me to be. The only application that saw me through to the assessment day was Unilever. That was a real tester. I put 110% into that day, I think I even convinced myself that I wanted it, and it wasn’t enough. Apparently my ability to analyse numbers/figures was not sufficient. Of course it wasn’t! I hated statistics throughout University for a reason! My friend completed the online numerical test (don’t pretend yours didn’t either)! I felt as though I wasn’t good enough because I didn’t have the ‘full package’. What is that all about! Tell me you will teach me numbers, I will learn the numbers!
Nonetheless, could you believe it. My cover-letter application to the NEF was successful – I had a phone interview! I left the library mid-revision the following week and spent about 30 minutes showcasing myself as an entrepreneur. I spoke through my early eBay years, explaining how I started selling all sorts on eBay from about 12 years of age, how it progressed to me buying and selling things for profit and how I spent the money on a car. I also spoke of my time working in retail on weekends during secondary school, and how i’d arrive early and leave late just to catch a glimpse of how shops really run. I spoke of how I spent a summer and a Christmas working within marketing in a jewellery company that grew to the sky before my eyes, and how I sat next to a graphic designer there who helped me to absorb everything I needed to know about Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign. And lastly, I spoke of how I helped to bring my mums company to the internet, designing her website, and introducing her to social media. And HEY, I was invited to a face-to-face interview which led to an assessment day! After a day of interviews, tests and presentations at the assessment day, I was lucky enough to be one of 36, out of approximately 1000 people who applied to the scheme, to be offered a place. I couldn’t have been happier and I couldn’t be more grateful. I’m ready and raring to go to develop and learn as much as I can about business and start-ups.
The New Entrepreneurs Foundation (NEF) place me in a paid 12-month placement within a fairly new and dynamic company, alongside an intensive, immersive and interactive 10-month learning and development program with workshops from corporate sponsors such as Deloitte, McKinsey and Tesco, and masterclasses from business schools such as UCL and the Centre for Entrepreneurial Learning at Cambridge judge Business School. I will also be provided with executive coaching, mentoring, and speaker events from, as well as the opportunity to network with, the UK’s top business leaders. As it happens, I started working at my paid placement three weeks ago, but I will save that for another post.
So, here I am. Thanks to Adele Barlow, I was persuaded to write a blog, and I’m going to share my journey on here. I hope it will be an interesting and life changing one, so enjoy reading!
For more information on the New Entrepreneurs Foundation – http://www.newentrepreneursfoundation.co.uk/