Michelle Young - AUT Edge Award Overall Achiever

Winning the Overall Achiever Prize for the AUT Edge Award has been the icing on the cake for graduate Michelle Young, now employed at Ogilvy NZ.

Michelle won the award by exhibiting outstanding enthusiasm, passion and ability to give back. Initially shy and lacking in confidence, Michelle signed up for the AUT Edge Award and then found the courage to enter the AUT X Challenge.This involved creating a business plan and presenting it to judges, explaining why it deserved funding. Although publicly defending her concept terrified her, she pushed herself to do it and ended up winning a prize and a scholarship for CO.STARTERS. She then became top entrepreneur of her CO.STARTERS cohort.

Michelle volunteered for a range of organisations, including Tedx Auckland, Coca-Cola Christmas in the Park, AUT Live and The Inconvenient Conference. She also provided photography, design and editing expertise for employability events, and helped students do their LinkedIn profile photographs – all time consuming activities to fit in around full time Master’s study and full time work. She is also running her own start up business, The Grad Box (survival kit for graduates).

“I feel I’ve become much more open minded and prepared to take risks and open myself up to try new things.”

She says one of the biggest learnings from the AUT Edge Award was that failure is okay – because failure offers opportunity to change and make different choices.

Industry sponsorship

This was the first year AUT industry partners have sponsored prizes for the AUT Edge Award. Along with the Overall Achievement prize, four other prizes were offered acknowledging students who had gone beyond expectation in volunteering, leadership, personal growth and social impact.The 2018 industry sponsors are Auckland Council, YUDU, Chartered Accountants Australia & New Zealand, SEEK Volunteer and InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG).

Janet Faulding General Manager of SEEK NZ who sponsored the Volunteering prize says having a point of difference is all important.

“Research has shown that 90% of all employers will employ someone with volunteering over someone who has not done volunteering. When employers are presented with CVs with exactly the same qualifications, your point of difference is your volunteering.”

The other prizewinners were Kelly D’Mello (Volunteering), Maya Jaros (Leadership), Jerina Grewar (Social Impact) and Johnathan Lopeti (Kingi Personal Growth).

Industry sponsorship of prizes is a great acknowledgement of the value of the award, says Anna Williams, Director of Student Employability.

“Having industry sponsorship highlights the significance employers place on the C-skills that the award enhances. The AUT Edge Award is a highlight of our calendar and we are very proud of the commitment of our graduates, the huge contribution they make to volunteering and the personal development we observe as they progress.”

32 graduated

All up 32 students graduated with the AUT Edge Award on 31July, the largest cohort in the two years since the award was introduced. The award is an extra curricular programme that is included on AUT’s academic transcript. It adds to the employability of the students by strengthening their employability skills, increasing their understanding of the world and their ability to effect change and grow as global citizens.

AUT Vice-Chancellor Derek McCormack who presented the awards congratulated the graduates for their endeavours.
“It shows you are a self starter, can go the extra mile, contribute and accept challenges.
Our challenge as a university is to find interesting and innovative ways, such as the AUT Edge Award, to build a well rounded employee who can make a difference in the future.”

Find out more about the AUT Edge Award. Or pop into the Employability Lab and ask our team for more information.

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