My friend was a finalist in the Undergraduate of the Year Awards a few years ago and he was the one who encouraged me to apply for it. The awards competition aims to find the best undergraduates in the UK in specific areas such as degree subjects and other categories like future leaders. The application process was quite intense with initial application questions, competency tests, a telephone interview and finally an assessment day in London. I thought at the start “what are the odds of me getting through this against thousands of others?” but with each stage I got through I became more and more confident.
The final stage was an awards ceremony in Canary Wharf, hosted by the Blue Peter presenter Konnie Huq, where I was up against ten other finalists. My category was the very first to be announced, so when they read my name and that I’d won Undergraduate of the Year within the Computer Science, IT and Physics category I had no idea what to do – luckily I didn’t have to make a speech! It didn’t hit me until I’d got home that I had beaten hundreds of people, but I was really humbled that I was given the opportunity to do it.
As part of my prize, I took up a six week internship at FDM’s London office in an IT development role, within the IT Development and Transformation team. Jonathan Young, the CIO told me that I was going to be working on app development, something I had never done before but it was nice to work on something new and particularly because this was a new direction for the company.
The highlight of my internship was coordinating a workshop for the TeenTech winners in the digital skills category. They won with their idea for SafeCase app for women, which is designed to make users feel safer and protect them from harm through the use of mechanisms such as loud alarms and GPS tracking. I ran a two day workshop for them on app development. Ahead of a competition in March the team is hoping to develop their idea into a working app. It was really rewarding to hear their feedback; that they had a good time and that they were glad they came. I think it’s amazing that FDM get involved in the development of young people, particularly on STEM projects. What surprised me most about FDM is that it is such a progressive company; everyone is so accepting of diversity and it’s a very open office. Unlike other work experiences I have had there are no office divisions and I had the opportunity to work across departments and teams.
This September I am heading back to the University of Aberystwyth to do a Masters in Data Science, I’m still figuring out what I want to do. Perhaps a PhD as I’m really keen on the idea of research and writing papers but everything is a learning experience, I’m still figuring out what I like and dislike. Thanks to FDM for the opportunity to be here I have met some amazing people and got involved in some really interesting projects that I have never really done before.