Classical Studies and Archaeology Global Winner Melanie Hechenberger of Monash University, recounts her experience at The Undergraduate Awards 2017 and the opportunities the programme has afforded her.
Being an undergraduate student nearing the end of your degree can be an unsettling experience. Doubts haunt the mind... What do good grades really count for? How does my work compare with that of students’ outside my institution who I will be competing with for job opportunities? Am I good enough to do postgraduate studies? Is there any point in continuing due to the restrictive job market? Many students with amazing potential have fallen by the wayside due to these doubts. This is why programs such as the Undergraduate Awards (UA) are so important! They are life changers and I can say that with certainty as UA changed my life.
I, too, was plagued by such doubts, but UA gave me an opportunity to answer some of my questions, the most important being: "how does my work compare with that of other students outside my institution." Being an UA Highly Commended entrant back in 2015 inspired me to continue on with my studies, and I wouldn't be doing my research Masters and pushing for a career in academia now without that boost in confidence that UA brought me.
So why should you submit your work to UA?
- To boost your confidence. You don't have to be a Global Winner to achieve this outcome. Just knowing that your work is ranked among the top 10% in your area as a Highly Commended entrant is enough. It’s an incredible feeling to have an expert look at your work, without any idea of who you are and where you come from, and deem it to be exceptional. The fact that UA celebrates the achievements of the top 10% of students is one of the aspects I love most about the program and make it stand out from other undergraduate awards that only acknowledge one or two people. That being said, if you don’t make it into the top 10% the first time around don’t lose heart! A good friend of mine didn’t make it through the first time either, but he did the second time and he was a regional winner the third time. Never underestimate the power of the three P’s: Patience, Persistence and Perseverance.
- To boost your CV and network. Having been successful in an international awards program can certainly make your CV stand out from the crowd. Attending the UA global summit (which everyone in the top 10% are invited to do) and networking with people from across the globe and disciplines is a wonderful second addition to that all-important document. And for those who are not able to attend the summit, you can still connect with other successful entrants—not only from your year, but past and future years—through the UA alumni network, which you automatically become a part of when you make it into the top 10%. Every year more outstanding students join the UA alumni network and it’s exciting to think of what future collaborations may come out of this global network of talented people, which you could be a part of.
- IT’S SO EASY TO ENTER! You’ve already done the majority of the work. All you need to do is tidy up one of your A-grade (or equivalent) pieces of work, make it anonymous and write an abstract. It is FREE to enter too! What is also fantastic is that you get to do something with that great piece of work that you’ve already spent so much time on. And for those contemplating a career in academia, there is never a better time than the present to start honing your abstract writing skills.
Give yourself a chance. You’ve got to be in it to win it, and in the words of Robert Kiyosaki: "Don't let the fear of losing be greater than the excitement of winning."