Arzu is guest writing the blog today, telling us all about her role as one of City Hall’s Mayor’s Entrepreneur Competition interns. Read on to find out more about how she secured this awesome role, her top internship application tips, and to find out how you can win £20,000 for your sustainable business idea!
My name is Arzu Abbasova. I am a final year BA International Relations student and at the same time one of the Mayor’s Entrepreneur Interns for 2020. It has been a while since I started this internship and to answer the questions I am asked about how I got this position and what I specifically do, I want to reflect on the whole process and share some tips alongside.
I saw this opportunity advertised via SOAS Careers Service and, checking the requirements, I decided to apply.
Tip 1: Make sure you change the settings of SOAS Careers Service on Facebook to “See First”- because if you do so you are never going to miss out the new opportunities.
That being aside I was very excited to apply for this position as I believed I was a perfect match. Generally speaking, I can say that the application process was very straightforward and consisted of 2 stages being the CV and the interview. The first stage was filling in the application form where I had to demonstrate the acquired skills with real-life examples and relate them to the job requirements.
Tip 2: Be specific and use the STAR technique, try to bring as many examples but make sure that you really emphasise how they are linked to what they are asking for.
I passed it successfully and got called to an interview which lasted around 20 minutes discussing how I could promote the competition and demonstrating my skills gained from previous experiences. I would say in all, the selection process was competitive because more than 340 people applied for the position and only 28 people got it. To my surprise (and my best knowledge) I am the first student to get the job from SOAS, which also puts great responsibility on me.
I applied for this position 2 years ago but could not pass to the interview stage, so it was my second attempt. I am bringing this up because it is a nice reminder to me (and I believe to the readers too) that if something does not happen at the first go it does not mean that it will never happen. So, developing your transferable skills and working in different environments can get you the job that you initially got rejected
Tip 3: Determination is the key here I would say.
Enough about the application process and time to move to what exactly my job is and what I am doing. To put it in a nutshell, my job is to promote Mayor’s Entrepreneur Competition on-campus, be the liaison between Mayor’s Office and my university, organise workshops and training, contact relevant people at SOAS, produce online content and much more. I am also lucky that the job can be easily fit around my schedule as it only requires 3.5 – 4 hours of commitment each week.
To give more information about the competition itself, the Mayor of London runs an annual Entrepreneur Competition which asks students from universities all over London to come up with sustainable business ideas to help make London a better place to live and work in.
For the first time this year, there are four separate awards focusing on the environment, smart cities, creative industries and health. The students enter their business ideas and the winners from each category get £20,000. By applying, the students gain valuable experience and skills that can help improve future employability, and this also gives them a chance to make a real difference to the way all of us live. Indeed, I totally believe that this is an opportunity not to be missed and would highly recommend SOAS students to enter the competition. In fact, SOAS students with the “Solar SOAS” project were finalists in 2014, and I am very keen to see a winner from SOAS this year.
Additionally, there are free workshops at City Hall which are being offered to all applicants and the first one for this year will be held on the 17th of December. This is also a fantastic opportunity to develop your business idea, get feedback on your ideas, network with like-minded students from universities across London and hear from past winners and finalists. Be sure to sign up via Eventbrite if you’re interested in applying!
As Brian Chesky, the co-founder of AirBnB said, “if we tried to think of a good idea, we wouldn’t have been able to think of a good idea. You just have to find the solution for a problem in your own life.”
Arzu is a final year BA International Relations student at SOAS.