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Leap business student gets ‘a first' in national challenge

April 3rd, 2017 6:26 PM

By Southern Star Team

Andrea Whelton: first time a first year was awarded the accolade

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A FIRST year UCD Business and Law student from West Cork has won the Gradireland National Student Challenge 2017.

Andrea Whelton from Leap earned her place in the grand final after finishing among the top 60 contestants in the challenge, becoming the only first-year student in the challenge’s seven-year history to land the top prize of €1,000 and the trophy. 

Gradireland is the national website for graduate careers advice and jobs.

The challenge is co-ordinated by Gradireland, along with major graduate employers, such as Gradpublicjobs, Lidl, AbbVie, PwC, Glanbia, EY and more. Throughout the day, teams of students must negotiate a series of challenges set by the employers, who rate each student’s performance, building up to the awards ceremony at the end of the event. The challenges devised are similar to many that students will face at assessment centres when applying for jobs. 

Mark Mitchell, Gradireland director, who presented Andrea and the runners up with their prizes, said that Andrea’s victory was definitely a first for the competition:

‘Andrea is the first first-year student to win the National Student Challenge, and has proven that the National Student Challenge is a viable competition for all students, allowing students’ exposure to honing the wide range of skills that employers are looking for. I think Andrea’s victory shows why anybody in third level should take the challenge; she stood out to employers and assessors through her communication, teamwork and leadership skills, which are all so vital in today’s graduate employment market.’

Andrea said she was absolutely thrilled to have won the National Student Challenge, but also very surprised. ‘There was such a high calibre of students competing at the event that I certainly didn’t expect to win. I found it to be a stimulating and eye opening event, so to win is something that has made a great event unforgettable,’ she said. 

Andrea added that the event really opened her eyes in terms of what employers are looking for when it comes to graduate employees, and changed her perception of what was involved in working for some companies. ‘As a first year student, we hear a lot about the importance of engaging with employers and finding out exactly what various career paths involve, the Student Challenge enabled me to do that and more and I’m so grateful to Gradireland for the opportunity. It only took me 20 minutes to do the online challenge, followed by the final itself. After winning, I would recommend any student to get involved and take the challenge, you’ll learn so much and, as I’ve shown, you never know what might happen on the day.’

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