Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Toms Experience at Explore Sky Finance Insight Day

I applied to “Explore Sky: A finance insight day” after receiving an appealing email from Target Jobs. I have always been interested in finance, but wanted to see if that really was where my passions were. Being a Sky customer I had a decent idea of the sort of work Sky does, but still had so many questions! After an efficient application process, I was invited to attend the day alongside 50 fellow applicants.

Before the event, both Sky and Target Jobs were extremely helpful, providing me with detailed information about what the day would entail, and also offering to answer any questions I had! Arriving at the Sky campus in Osterley was stunning, almost like turning up at university for the first time!

The day itself started with talks from Target Jobs, Head of Finance at Sky, members of the Sky Starting Out team, and current Sky Graduates who all spoke about their jobs. They all provided valuable information on a range of topics such as Sky Behaviours, the application process, and qualifications earned whilst working at Sky. It really gave me the information needed to make future career decisions. Being in such a fast-paced industry, it was interesting to find out about the importance of Sky’s constant innovation.

Having the opportunity to speak to Sky’s current graduates over a (free!) lunch, we were able to find out the in’s and out’s from employees just starting out in their Sky career. They gave us honest opinions about their experiences at Sky, which really confirmed that I want to build a career at Sky Finance!

A CIMA representative explained to use all about the CIMA qualification you obtain whilst working for Sky. Again, it was fantastic to hear about all the career benefits of gaining a highly respected qualification.

We then had the opportunity to showcase our skills to Serena (Sky Finance) and Amandeep (Sky Starting Out) via a team challenge. This 30-minute exercise involved planning a completely new product for Sky to launch! Despite common themes occurring between the groups, each group had their unique take on what areas Sky should be heading in. Each group presented their idea to both the judges and the other participants, and were then asked on the spot questions. Presenting in front of experts and having the chance to answer questions from them has really improved my business confidence!

The Sky campus itself was simply outstanding. We were fortunate enough to have a tour around a place with fantastic facilities, including filming studios, a gym, and even some rare trees!
I would recommend this event for anyone remotely interested in a finance career for several reasons. Firstly, and probably most importantly, it gives you such an informative, enjoyable and interesting insight into what Sky is all about, in a much different way to usual careers events! Secondly, you will have the chance to meet a wide range of people – from peers in a similar situation to yourself, right up to the Head of Finance at Sky! Lastly, if nothing else, you will have an extremely fun day! I cannot recommend the day enough!

If you attend the day, I would advise throwing yourself into anything and everything in order to optimise your day! Everyone there is in the same situation so don’t be afraid to ask questions, get involved in tasks, and be proactive in your approach!

I would like to thank both Sky and Target Jobs for hosting such a fantastic day, allowing everybody to get exactly what they were looking for out of the event! Due to the event, I now intend on applying for the Finance Graduate Scheme.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Katie tells us about her day spent at Sky HQ and the application process

 In August, I was coming to the end of my placement year and keen to find out more about other companies and the graduate opportunities available. I knew that I was interested in applying to Sky, as I had spoken to several people while on my placement who had recommended the graduate scheme. For me, the culture of a company is particularly important and I feel that the best way to get a feel for the culture is through meeting people who already work there, so when I saw this event advertised on the TargetJobs website, I knew it was a brilliant chance to learn more about Sky’s ethos, while networking with their employees. The fact that this event was held at their Head Office made the opportunity to attend even more exciting, having grown up with Sky, I was looking forward to seeing how things work behind the scenes.

The application process consisted of an initial application, which asked you to explain your motivations for applying to Sky, as well as biographical information, such as your University and predicted grades. This closely resembled the initial process for graduate applications and it was good practice for getting back into the habit of filling out applications, while also giving me time to think carefully about my motivations for working in the tech industry and for wanting to apply to Sky.

I received an invitation to a telephone interview not long after submitting my application – it’s worth bearing in mind that TargetJobs will allocate places nearer to the event date – so if you apply early, it may be a few weeks until you hear back. I booked the interview through an online tool and there were several time options so I could find a time which suited me. Before this interview, I made sure to read Target Jobs’ top tips for telephone interviews, as it had been a while since I’d had an interview and reading this helped me to brush up on my skills.
The TargetJobs interviewer was friendly, encouraging me to discuss my motivations for attending the event, while chatting about any relevant experience I had. As my placement was in the technology industry, I had some knowledge and experience of tech, however my placement was a marketing role, so I was conscious that I perhaps didn’t have the same knowledge or experience that some more technical candidates may have had, such as coding. I think the most important thing here is to make it clear why working in tech appeals to you. For me, it’s because it’s such a fast-paced, exciting industry to be in and I am also eager to learn, be challenged and experience new things. Whatever your reason for wanting to attend, this is your chance to make it clear why you should be given the chance! I received an email a few days later saying that I’d secured a place at the event.

The night before the event, I stayed at a friend’s house in London, to make the journey easier in the morning, as we needed to be at Sky for 9.30AM. It was only a short tube journey to the nearest station Osterley and Sky run shuttle buses from the station to the offices, which is something I may not have known without visiting the offices myself (and it’s always handy to have experienced this journey in case you do end up visiting these offices again). It’s also worth mentioning that Sky will refund up to £50 of expenses, so you don’t need to be out of pocket if you do attend – particularly important when you’re a student on a budget!

On arriving at the event, I was greeted by a Target Jobs representative. I was surprised to find that several of the people who had been on the bus with me were also there for the same event. I decided to introduce myself and we got talking about our journeys and our expectations for the day, which helped me to relax and feel at ease, before registering and making our way to the amazing new building. The first thing we saw in the reception was the throne from Game of Thrones, which made us keen to see what else the offices had in store for us.

The first session took place in a large event space. We were given introduction booklets and pens, plus there were refreshments available throughout the day, so we were well looked after! We also received a lanyard with a name badge attached, these were colour coded (purple for those applying for the Software roles and orange for Technical). The morning consisted of several talks, from a wide range of people, including TargetJobs representatives, some of the Sky recruitment team. We were given post-it notes to write our questions for him on and I was pleased that mine was read out, as it was interesting to learn about Sky’s perspective on emerging technologies such as Augmented and Virtual reality and how these will impact Sky’s products and services.

We then got to go on a tour of the buildings, I think the event organisers understood our excitement, as they encouraged us to take pictures and upload them to Facebook and Twitter (my Snapchat story looked particularly good that day!) For this, we were mixed up into different groups, which meant that I got to speak to some more attendees and hear about their experiences. The tour was brilliant, we got to see the Sky Sports Centre and different cafés, restaurants and working areas, there’s even a rooftop bar. As a dedicated Arsenal fan, the only disappointment for me was not seeing Thierry Henry! (Although there was a picture of him on the wall).
After lunch, the afternoon session consisted of a team challenge. We were allocated to groups, which were split between technology attendees and software attendees and between us we chose roles for each member. The goal of this challenge was for us to develop an app for Sky Cinema, I was the product manager, so my role was to decide which features consumers would want and work out what the priorities for the developers would be. I then worked with the Scrum Master to communicate with the developers to understand which of our priorities were feasible and the time frames in which they could be completed. The Scrum Master and I then worked together to amend the tasks, all the while receiving feedback on progress from the Software team. Although we didn’t have a lot of time to spend on this activity in comparison to what it would be in the real world, the focus was on us learning how teams in Tech work together and the kind of roles available, rather than us creating the most perfect product. After working on this for what felt like 20 minutes (but was several hours), it was time for us to present back to the room. This whole project was good experience for assessment centres, as the day combined teamwork and presentation skills. Our team came second, which marked the end of a great day.
One of the most interesting things from this event was that everyone I spoke to had different experiences and backgrounds. There was not one ‘type’ of person at the event, but rather a mix of degrees and disciplines – I spoke to people who studied subjects ranging from Education, to Maths, to Business, to Cyber Security! This made me feel much more comfortable as a Marketing student and helped me to realise that Sky will look beyond your degree subject when assessing your application, while technical skills are valuable, it’s also exciting to see that they are interested in individuals with skills in innovation and creativity.

Overall, I recommend this event to anyone with even a mild interest in Technology, the opportunities at Sky are so vast and even if you decide a Technology role isn’t for you, you’ll benefit from learning how tech teams operate in large scale businesses, while potentially realising that Sky is a place you want to work in the future!


Monday, June 20, 2016

Read our runner up Logan's experience at the TARGETcareers School Leavers' Challenge!

First off I'd like to thank Target Careers and BT for organising such an informative and fun day at the BT Tower in London. It really was a fantastic opportunity that I would encourage everyone eligible to enter it next year.

The first round of the competition was an online quiz which had a whole variety of questions in it, from scenarios about your first day at work to mathematical and logic puzzles. It is a timed process so when you start make sure you are able to complete it all in one go. After completing the quiz it gave you a score and placed you on the regional scoreboard. I placed second in Scotland but since I was one of the first 20 or so to complete it I was pleasantly surprised that I held my place until the closing date. This is when the competition gets more tense as the top 10 people from each region are invited to attend the grand final which was held at the BT Tower in London.

I flew to London the night before and after stayed in a hotel nearby so that I would be prepared for the following morning. The event started at 9am after we had all signed in at the awe-inspiring BT Tower. The first event of the morning was an introduction where we were told what the format of the day was going to be.  After this we were split into our groups for the day and the activities began. Throughout the day each group took part in two challenges, based on the kind of activities that we might encounter at an assessment centre when applying for a job. After an ear-popping journey to the top of the tower my group took part in the first challenge which involved using plastic spoons to move marbles from one cup to another. The challenges seemed rather trivial but they were good fun and the assessors had a close eye on us to see how well we worked as a team and used our leadership skills. The actual challenge was just a means of getting the group to work as a team and having fun.

After this came one of my personal highlights of the day, a networking lunch where we had the chance to eat some delicious food whilst networking with employees from the sponsoring businesses. I had a very useful and informative chat with a recruiter from BT. This was also a good opportunity to get to know some of the other finalists and to enjoy the spectacular view out over London from the top of the tower.

The afternoon was made up of another assessment centre style challenge, a session on personal branding and a "How to get Hired" question and answer session. The personal branding session was about how you can present yourself in a positive and professional way using social media and more formal methods such as CV's. This proved very useful when re-drafting my CV to apply for work experience in the summer. The "How to get Hired" session had recruitment professionals from all 9 of the sponsoring businesses on the stage ready to answer any questions we had related to getting a job. This was another brilliant opportunity that I'm sure will prove useful in the next few years for everyone in attendance.

The awards ceremony was the final event of the day. The prizes were awarded by Mark Murphy from BT. I was delighted when my name was called out as runner up in the competition. The prize of the competition this year is a day at BT's Adastral Park Research and Innovation centre which includes the opportunity to meet people from BT and to find out more about a department of our choice. I am really looking forward to the event which is happening this summer.

I think everyone who attended the event will agree that the day had been both fun as well as very informative and worthwhile. My top tips for anyone who makes it to the final next year is to just relax and enjoy the event. It is not often that you are given such a unique opportunity to prepare yourself for the workplace. In order to make the most of the event you have to be confident and ask questions. The day is not without it's challenges but if you embrace them I have no doubt that you will find the day rewarding and fun. Thanks again to everyone at Target Careers for organising the event and to all of the sponsoring companies for their support.

Visit to find out more information about the challenge!

Thursday, June 9, 2016

TARGETcareers School Leavers' Challenge 2016 Winner!

We hear from Abe Chauhan the winner of the TARGETcareers School Leavers' Challenge 2016 about his experience at the Grand Final which was held at the BT Tower, London!

I first heard about the TARGETcareers School Leavers' Challenge through an unremarkable-looking poster in my Sixth Form Centre; it was advertised as a brief online test with a potential Grand Final later in the year. I thought little of it but, later that week, with a looming English coursework deadline, a 30 minute test seemed like the perfect window for some solid procrastination. I had taken similar tests before with careers services at school and so knew roughly what to expect: there were no trick questions and a lot of them were based on normative judgements personal to me which I found put me at ease. After the test I checked the regional leader board and was pleasantly surprised to find myself in the top 10; I was even more surprised when I received an email about a month later informing me that I was still there and had therefore been invited to attend the final.

Spending the day at the BT Tower was of course a great experience - a personal highlight was lunch on the rotating floor of the tower with a panoramic view of the London cityscape. The challenges themselves were unusual but not entirely unpredictable. We were involved in group tasks, the first coordinating a 'delivery service' to transport marbles and the second involving some remarkably tense negotiating while trading cards. Although we were being observed throughout the day I again did not think too much of it; I was able to enjoy the challenges and meet other finalists from my region which was itself quite interesting. The awards ceremony closed the day and I was shocked when my name was announced.

I am still not certain what it is that I did right throughout the day but, despite that, here are some tips for next year's competition:

1. This is the most important by far - actually give it a go. It is so easy to dismiss competitions like these because you do not think you would be suited to them but I never expected to make it to the final, let alone win. This is a useful experience regardless of how far you progress and you cannot benefit from it if you do not at least apply.

2. Be yourself - everyone has their own approach to group challenges and it is not always the loud and brash members who excel; behave as you would normally do and you should enjoy yourself.

3. Finally, should you get to the final, make the most of the networking opportunity. This year's Grand Final hosted representatives from some of the most prestigious graduate employers in the country, who offer fantastic schemes to school leavers and graduates alike. I personally spoke to several people who will hopefully be able to provide me with useful information and opportunities when I seek employment in the future.

Of course I think it is essential that everyone who is eligible opts to take part in next year's challenge; 30 minutes is a small price for potentially invaluable help and advice further down the line. Regardless of how far you eventually progress, each stage of the competition is designed to serve as an insight into the world of employment which, especially in the competitive workplace of today, will prove useful.

What's next:

This year's prize for the winner and runners-up is a day's tailored work experience at BT's Adastral Park which has been arranged for mid-August; I am very much looking forward to being able to see the workings of such an influential company. Speaking more broadly, in September I will (hopefully) be starting at university; I have accepted a conditional offer to read Law with German Law at University College London. Like most people my age I am not completely certain which career path I will eventually take but my experience with the TARGETcareers School Leaver's Challenge has given me helpful exposure to what I can expect in the coming years.

Visit to find out more about the TARGETcareers School Leavers' Challenge. 

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

We caught up with Leon from The Male Undergraduate of the Year Award 2015

It has been over a year since the Undergraduate of the Year Awards 2015 and I've learnt a lot in the 10 months that I've been at L'Oréal so far. Both the Award and the placement that followed has given me invaluable experience that I believe would help me in whatever career I decide to pursue. 

I've launched products and managed my own projects and budgets; delivered on leading digital initiatives that my Brand had never done before; coordinated my own team to help organise our annual National Conference; and also exposed myself to very different experiences, from legal, commercial and digital to PR and photoshoots!

This time last year, I would've never thought I could be gaining so much by spending a year in industry and I'm glad I took the decision to defer my postgraduate year for this. I've learnt a lot about my strengths and blind spots and I am clear on what my areas of development are. I now feel well-prepared for whatever I finally decide to do in future!

If you are interested in applying to The Undergraduate of the Year Awards 2017 please pre-register here -