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06 May 2014

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Jamie Cooper-Higgins (22) is a final year undergraduate studying BA Marketing (Hons) at the University of Strathclyde, during which he has also enlisted with the Universities of Glasgow and Strathclyde Air Squadron (UGSAS). He was recently awarded ‘The Scotland Undergraduate of the Year Award 2014’ and talks about how his UAS experience influenced the outcome.

What are the awards?

The TARGET jobs Undergraduate of the Year Awards launched five years ago which now feature 12 awards, and for the 2014 competition, were entered by more than 4,400 students from over 130 universities. The awards were set up to recognise the top UK graduates across twelve categories, including for the first time a Scotland specific category open to final year students studying any degree at a Scottish university. A leading graduate recruiter sponsors each award; CGI one of the world’s largest IT consultancies with clients including the MOD sponsored my category, offering a graduate job with their UK business as a prize.

The awards were held in Canary Wharf and were hosted by Sir Trevor McDonald. It really was an honour to meet such an inspirational figure and was my highlight of the day.

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What are the winning criteria?

Although academic performance is a factor in winning, it’s not the only or even the most important one. The selection process includes an application form and essays, extensive psychometric testing, interviews and an assessment centre with the sponsor. The awards look for aptitude, drive and experience at each stage – my years with UGSAS allowed me to draw on examples that other candidates just didn’t have and helped differentiate myself in the running. This award followed a similar recruitment process to most graduate jobs and being part of the UAS not only helps develop the skills recruiters are looking for, but packages them up into a military brand image that recruiters understand easily and recognise value in.

What’s next for you?

Although I’ve thoroughly enjoyed and valued my time with UGSAS and as part of the Royal Air Force, I have decided to pursue a career in business and particularly in marketing.

Last summer I interned with Barclays Wealth & Investment Management in New York City as a Business Analyst, funded through a Saltire Foundation Scholarship. I’ve decided to stay with Barclays and will be joining their Future Leader Development Programme graduate scheme in August, working within the Marketing & Product division based in Canary Wharf, London. I’m hoping to help develop the Barclays AFTER programme, which works to help veterans re-integrate into civilian life after service and enter a career within Barclays.

I am looking forward to making the most of the time I have left with UGSAS over the summer. I’ll be taking part in the Ex Overlord strike, flying as much as possible and getting our Squadron band ready for our annual Summer Ball! Although I’m not joining the forces as a regular I haven’t discounted the Reserves in a few years time. I know I’m going to miss UGSAS and I owe a part of this award to both UGSAS and the wider UAS system!

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