frontrunner what ?

Several people have been asking me how it’s like to work as a frontrunner, what I do, how much I get paid and all the details. I have yet to complete my frontrunner scheme ( 4 hours left to be exact before my contract ends) but I’ll share with you my frontrunner experience in general. If you still have doubts whether you should submit your application or not, why not read on and hopefully it will change your mind at the end of this post 🙂

Frontrunner ; what is it all about ?

First of, the frontrunner scheme is for Essex University students. It’s a 20 week on campus placement limited to 8 hours per week. You can apply to be a frontrunner for many departments ; Employability and Career frontrunner, Lakeside Theatre frontrunner, Economics Dept frontrunner and it goes on and on. The objective of this scheme is to provide opportunities for students to boost their soft skills. Nowadays employers don’t simply want a first class degree, they evaluate you based on the skills you’ve acquired. To brush up on those skills, this is definitely one of the opportunities you can make use of in Essex University.

You might be thinking , what’s in it for you ?

You are paid obviously. For frontrunner position the pay is about £6.70 per hour. I am pretty sure it is slightly higher for frontrunner plus. You can apply to be a frontrunner and a frontrunner plus without any previous experience but do take note that once you are a frontrunner, I believe you cannot apply to be a frontrunner again. I may be wrong but please do check before applying. Well, that is not everything that’s good about this placement. You get to make your CV looks great, acquire transferable skills that won’t be taught in your academic learning, meet new people and of course the invaluable experience. 

Wondering how is it like to be a frontrunner ? Here’s my bit of experience as a frontrunner.

I am currently a Social Media and Marketing frontrunner in the International Office . I applied for the autumn term placement during my summer term and started on the 12th October 2015. The procedure for this placement is simple enough- you just need a few hours to concentrate on the application form and write your CV, if you haven’t done so. If you need help constructing your CV , check out the Essex CV Pack . Trust me, when I first entered university I don’t even know the format of a CV. The CV pack definitely helped. Once you’ve submitted, all you got to do is wait for their reply. Please , please make sure that you fill in the application form properly and with passion because they’ll evaluate you based on that before they shortlist the candidates. First impression is always important but don’t go overboard and exaggerate. A quick tip about writing for the applicationwhatever experience you write, make sure to state what skills you got out of it. It’s easy to say that you’ve done many things. I can also choose to talk about my travelling experience. The person reading it will be ‘ so what ? ‘ But if you construct it so that the travelling experience helps you in managing funds, time management, responsible and passionate ; that will totally make sense for those people evaluating your application. Don’t forget to do your checklist. Make sure your CV and application form states all the role specification. They usually look for that during the elimination process. So now you’ve covered the application and let’s say you got shortlisted and they call you in for an interview. Yay!

What to do next ?

It is very important to attend an interview looking presentable. That is a plus point for you if you do so. Don’t rush your words, take time to answer and never say ‘ no ‘ or ‘ I am not sure’ . Say more than just one line when answering questions. Show to them that you are dying to secure this opportunity. Most of the time, there will be a few people interviewing you and they do a little chat before starting just so you can relax, at least that’s how it is for me. I can’t say for other department. My interview is slightly different as I had a Skype interview. I couldn’t make it to the interview because I was flying back to Malaysia on that same day. But it didn’t stop me from being extremely excited about the job. Most importantly is that, be yourself, show to them what you can offer, your potential and don’t be intimidated or think about the ‘what-ifs’. It’s a now or never kind of situation.

So once I got through all the stage and received an offer, the next part is to actually start working and prove to them all you said during the earlier stage. As for me, my department consist of the most understanding and kind people so I have no problems whatsoever at all. Everything went smoothly, I learnt loads and got to experience many new things. My hours are very flexible, I get to choose when I come in and can change the time if I have something else on. As for the workload, I would’t say it’s heavy. It’s considered quite good and I’m being paid well too so I have no complains. But basically I think I’m loving it because the people in the office are awesome. Some of the jobs I do are:

  • Data input and admin work -this involves names, spreadsheet and long hours. on the bright side, your skill in Excel will be amazing once you’ve completed the placement.
  • Campus tour for international visitors and delegates – you will receive training (hours of walking around campus is a good exercise) before you do the tours. Occasionally, the office needs you to do campus &accommodation tour which is fun because you get to share about your life in Essex and do a bit of exercise.
  • Education fair – Yeap, you get to travel to education fairs to promote our university. It is exciting and you gain new experiences just by talking to people.
  • Social media – You get to handle the office social media like Facebook, Twitter,Chatzy and other accounts.This is a bit of research based because you have to find suitable articles but hey I’m definitely not complaining. You’ll be surprise to find all kinds of information online.
  • Frontrunner workshops – yes, you are being paid to attend workshops. but do concentrate in these workshops they are really good for you.

From my frontrunner experience, one main difference I improved is my communication skill. Also, you get to experience a working environment in the UK. The working culture and ethics is quite different as compared to Malaysia. This will be a good exposure for us as it helps us to be a better leader of our country in the future. And yes, don’t have to worry about lunch time. You can bring your own food there’s microwave and coffeemaker and a small fridge. So you’re practically covered. Do not starve yourself when you work and yeap you are allowed to go for toilet breaks. I was kind of naive when I first started I starved through lunch time working for 6 hours thinking that I am not allowed to get my lunch. That was a good one. But obviously you can bring your food just don’t leave for an hour or something.

Phew, that was a long one . I hope I covered everything and if you’re thinking of applying for the summer frontrunner placement, you still have time until 12 noon tomorrow. You can check out the openings here and all the best , may the force be with you !

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