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Around 40 students took part in a Battle of the Colleges business challenge on Sunday, Week One. Organised in college teams, competitors had to consider some common everyday needs before designing a new product or service that would address those needs. They then pitched their ideas to a ‘Dragon’s Den’ style panel. The winners, a team from Grizedale College, received a box of chocolates and will now go on to represent the University in a national Technology Challenge, run by Barclays.
The Battle of the Colleges forms part of College Spirit Week and was organised by Lancaster University’s careers team. Lyndsey Egerton, Enterprise and Work Related Learning Advisor, spoke to SCAN and said she hoped students taking part “have great fun doing something different” and “pick up some really important core skills that employers really look for… such as teamwork, managing time, negotiation, communication [and] presentation.”
The winning team now goes through to a national competition, the Technology Challenge, where they will represent Lancaster University. This Challenge will give them more time to develop a prototype application and supporting project proposal before presenting their idea to a panel. They will work with business mentors who will support them during the delivery of the task and will receive feedback. All Technology Challenge participants will receive a certificate that can go towards their CV as well as valuable feedback, with prizes and work experience opportunities with BBC FutureMedia and Barclays Technology Centre available for the overall national winners.
“If students take part in things like this today then it gives them something very different to talk to companies about” Egerton said. “That will definitely make them stand out from the crowd. It’s a really great way to practice in such a safe environment and get the skills that you need.”
The competitors SCAN spoke to were in agreement. One competitor felt it was an opportunity “to do presentations and practice their entrepreneurial skills” as well work in a team and network. Others spoke of the enjoyment they got from taking part and competing as a college in something different – “you don’t often get the opportunity to be on ‘Dragon’s Den’”, one competitor commented.
Many graduate schemes run similar tasks as part of their application process, and Egerton believes that events such as the Battle of the Colleges are a “great chance to explore a similar type of role or assessment which is used by a lot of different companies.”
Egerton told SCAN that similar events have been run over past two years in Cartmel, but Pendle was chosen this time to give other colleges the chance to host this sort of event, and also because of Pendle bar’s availability after a crisis last year which meant Pendle bar would remain closed for the vast majority of the week to students unless an event was taking place.
David Miller, Vice-President Events for Pendle college, hopes the Battle of the Colleges will boost the number of people using Pendle bar and showcase the different types of events that can be hosted at Pendle.
During the academic year there will be at least two more opportunities to take part in similar Battle of the Colleges events and Egerton encourages everyone to “get involved in later ones throughout the year”. The Battle of the Colleges is just one of the many services the careers team provides. There are numerous events, courses and workshops taking place throughout the year, either focusing on developing key skills or informing students of the opportunities open to them in particular companies.