Thursday, June 8, 2017

Amira met IBM at IT's not just for the boys! Since she has secured her dream security placement with IBM

My name is Amira Remadna and I am second year student at Oxford Brookes university; studying a combined course- computer science with business management. During my studies it took me a while to realise what I really wanted and what my passion is. The support I received from family and friends and TARGETjobs IT’s not just for the boys! event really helped this process.

I have always been a maths girl, which lead me to study maths stream at secondary school. At the very last minute before applyi
ng through UCAS I changed my personal statement and my course from foundation degree in science to maths with business management information, international business and research studies- in order to have a business management and computer science degree.

After my first year at university and getting involved in societies especially being the Oxford Brookes faculty ambassador for both departments (business school and computer science) I started to lean towards the computer science route. I attended IT’s not just for the boys!, which is a special event  ran by TARGETjobs, designed exclusively for female students who are looking to find out more about opportunities within technology . It was an excellent day and it made me realise how big the sector is and the amount of different opportunities available. At the end of the day you gain such confidence and inspiration you realise that you can achieve anything regardless of your gender.

When I first decided to apply for a placement I had very little confidence because I had no work experience related to technology. I thought it would be impossible for me to get experience as I knew other students already had a lot of experience. However I did not give up, I decided to start working and build my CV before applying. The event extremely boosted my confidence and has allowed me to develop as a candidate and helped me to secure my placement.

My dream job has always been with IBM and luckily for me they happened to be one of the companies that attended the event. During the day students participated in a team challenge, which was a perfect chance to showcase my skills to IBM. The longer I spoke to IBM representatives and current graduates on their schemes enabled me to gain more information from them, which helped me stand out from the crowd. It was simply the perfect chance to meet IBM and learn tips for their applications. Moreover, I spent all day interacting with various companies and great people such as senior managers at Dell.

Straight after the event I applied to IBM and it was my one and only application, so I put in all my efforts, to get my dream job. After passing the first stage of the application form, I attended many interviews where I showed my interest in security. Each stage of the application grew more challenging, until one day I received an email stating I had passed the assessment centre, where I then received an offer for a security role interview.

My interview went well, despite the fact I am not studying a security degree. Nevertheless, it was exactly the job I wanted and after a few days I called IBM and I told them that I’m ready to take the challenge and willing to learn before the final interview. Within a short period of time I was able to learn Linux and various other technical systems, which I believe enhanced my application and prepared me extremely well for the interview. Shortly after my interview I received the news that I secured the job! I was one of three students who secured a placement with IBM and the first and only Oxford Brookes student to secure a role within security. I am now extremely excited to start my role with IBM on 28th June and grateful to the IT’s not just for the boys! event for helping me in gaining the confidence to land my dream job! 

Friday, May 26, 2017

Bronwyn O'Neill, Female Undergraduate of the Year 2014 finalist, sheds some light onto life after the Awards...

I was a top 10 finalist for Rolls Royce's Female Undergraduate of the Year Award 2014. After the award process, I graduated from the University of York in 2015 and a month later moved to Matsuyama City, Japan. I was accepted onto the JET Programme as an Assistant Language Teacher, and since then have been teaching in five rural Elementary and Junior High Schools on the island of Shikoku. The past two years have been a real whirlwind and I've learnt so much - I've now got conversational Japanese language, teaching skills, and a great deal of experience with cross-cultural communication.  I’ve built a good network and I’ve also had some fantastic opportunities to publish some of my travel writing. As well as the professional skills I’ve developed, being in Japan has been a great opportunity for travel, personal development, and making some wonderful friendships. I will finish my time on the programme in August 2017, and although I will be a heartbroken to say goodbye to my wonderful students and life in Japan, I am very much looking forward to starting my career in the UK. I hope to use and continue to develop my language, communication, and creative skills in the new challenges that lie ahead.

Being part of Female Undergraduate of the Year has influenced my career path so far in subtle but noticeable ways. Visits to the Rolls Royce facilities and networking at Canary Wharf definitely opened my eyes to the world of possibilities open to me as a hardworking young professional. Seeing myself on the same level as so many amazingly talented undergraduates also gave me a confidence boost that went a long way towards securing my place on the JET Programme, a competitive and very rewarding graduate scheme. I found the Female Undergraduate award process particularly interesting as I met many high-level women at Rolls Royce and got a unique perspective on a previously male-orientated professional field. It really piqued my interest and heightened my drive towards breaking the glass ceiling.

My advice for prospective applicants is not to underestimate yourself! Make your application personal and give yourself enough time to properly give yourself credit for the great things you’ve already done as an undergraduate. You never know where it might lead you!

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

We caught up with Shilpa after attending our Future Female Engineers event back in 2015!

I found out about Future Female Engineers through an email I received from TARGETjobs in 2015. I went online and looked at the videos, photos and the companies who had attended previously and was very impressed. The help and advice given during the event seemed exactly what I needed at that point in my education; an independent voice offering me fresh ideas helping me think outside the box. It was also the fact that the event was for female engineers, which is a subject very close to my heart.

I applied online and waited for my telephone interview, which arrived the following week. The lady I spoke to was very friendly and the call did not feel like an interview at all! It was a friendly chat where she wanted to know a bit about me and my background, why I was interested and so on. She helped me with any questions which were not clear to me; she let me take my time and really listened to me which was very helpful.

On the day of the event I got to know the girls very quickly, as the day began with an introductory session with breakfast! We had a few talks from very motivated and established female engineers, before moving onto the team challenge, which was such a success for my team because we won! What did we have to do you ask? Well, our team designed, delegated and built the tallest, most price efficient and free standing balloon tower (yes, a balloon tower) amongst all the groups. All this in under an hour with a group of girls you only met a few minutes ago, makes you realise what you can achieve if you put your mind to it with a committed team around you. The sense of satisfaction and excitement this activity gave me, spurred me to go along to more team building activities within my university and my job which has helped me became a more confident and able engineer.

After the lunch, we had the chance to speak with three of our chosen companies. We were given in-depth information about their online application, tests, interview processes and assessment days. This was really helpful as the information was more detailed than what you would get at a graduate or recruitment fair. Kate Bellingham, who is an advocate for STEM and WISE gave such a powerful and inspirational speech; I think I had tears in my eyes! The stories of these women of how they came to be where they are today and the situations they faced was amazing to hear, some that you could relate to as well.

Since attending the event, I graduated from university the following year and got my first job in a space of four months! It was difficult at times, especially when I had no offers from any of the companies I had applied to. However, if there was one thing I took away from the event was to keep trying, never give up and in the mean time to do anything to make you stand out as an engineer.

I got an offer from Westfield Sportscars (WSC) in the Dudley, West Midlands to work on their amazing driverless Pod project. I joined as a Project Engineer and was able to do much more than I had ever imagined to as a newly graduated engineer. I got to liaise with customers, pick up tools and built vehicles, do design work on CAD, etc. I will never forget the valuable experience and information I gained from attending TARGETjobs Future Females Engineers. I strongly believe that it has helped me a great deal to get to where I am today. I hope that one day I get to help more girls who are in the position that I was in back in 2015 and be one of those strong women they will remember.

Monday, May 22, 2017

If you love tech, this is not to be missed! Sravani Royyuru shares her experience at IT's not just for the boys! event and her Spring into Technology programme with J.P. Morgan

October’s IT’s not just for the boys! event was a fantastic way to get tech savvy women clued up about the real-world applications of technology. The day was hosted at J.P. Morgan in Canary Wharf, which was a fantastic backdrop and provided a snapshot into the power of technology within financial services.

Throughout the day, interactions with the different companies provided valuable insights into the different roles of technology across multiple sectors. As the day progressed, the opportunities to participate in simulated assessment centre exercises, networking with Technology MDs and the Panel Q&A with senior females in tech, all helped to dispel myths and discuss challenges about being a woman in technology. I also received some great tips and tricks to make myself stand out from the crowd. The icing on the cake was the ‘Lean In’ style presentation by Anne-Marie Imafidon (founder of social enterprise STEMETTES) – her passion and humour was electric and in turn enthused the whole audience.

Following the event, I was extremely interested in applying to many of the employers who were involved in the event, including J.P. Morgan. Interacting with the J.P. Morgan representatives allowed us to gain perspective into what starting as an Analyst may be like, and I found myself appreciating the culture that I saw. This led me to apply to their Spring into Technology programme, despite being from a non-computer science background, the event gave me confidence in my analytical skills. Following a phone interview that tested my passion for technology, I was offered a place on the programme and spent three fantastic days in Canary Wharf, learning in detail about the firm’s focus on technology, its developments in client facing platforms and the overall opportunities available to STEM graduates.

My confidence to apply to J.P. Morgan, as well as the detail I could provide in my interview, is largely because of my participation in IT’s not just for the boys! – I would like to wholeheartedly thank the whole team at TARGETjobs Events, all the inspiring women on the panel and all the companies who were at the event for a fantastic day. I fully recommend this to everyone – if you love tech, this is not to be missed!

Monday, May 15, 2017

Katie Lofthouse is TARGETcareers School Leavers' Challenge 2017 Winner!

An advocate of the TARGETcareers School Leavers' Challenge, my head of sixth form urged me to complete the online assessment in order to be in with the chance of attending the grand final. Little did I know that this would lead to me lunching on the coveted rotating level of the BT Tower, looking out over the landscape of London midway through a day of challenges, informative talks, and networking with companies and other students.

So, how did I get there? Initially, the online aptitude test required both mathematical and employability skills, with the first of these sections based around analysis of data you may encounter in the business world (no difficult algebra!) and the latter assessing thinking of a more lateral nature to see how you respond in different circumstances everyone encounters when starting a new job. For the test, it is important to leave yourself enough time – you don't want to be rushed – and have a calculator, pen, and paper ready for any working during calculation questions. Also, try not to fixate on what is the 'right' answer in the employability section – it is likely there is no set in stone correct answer to any given question, and the test is simply to understand your personality and how it transfers in a business environment.

Following a tense few months of waiting to see if I qualified for the final, I was finally invited, and a couple of weeks later found myself on an early morning train to London, headed for the landmark BT Tower. Upon arrival, it became rapidly evident that with such a large group of students from a wide range of backgrounds, all of the finalists were happy to chat and find some common ground; the friendly atmosphere really helped to build my confidence before the tasks started.

After an introductory talk, I was then whisked to the observation level of the Tower to undertake the first of two assessment tasks of the day; the aptly named 'Marble Mayhem', which required strategy, concentration, technique, and teamwork – as well as a good sense of humour! The second task, mysteriously named 'Card Exchange', took place in the afternoon, and centred on having a business-minded approach, with many creative and unorthodox negotiation tactics attempted within my group in order to ensure the highest point score. Throughout these tasks, different business sponsors were assigned to coordinate and assess the different groups of students, although I can't say I felt pressured by their presence; in fact, I hardly noticed they were there.

The grand final also incorporated more general advice and informative sessions regarding personal branding, the different pathways available for school leavers, and the history of BT as a company. These, I found, were very useful in expanding my knowledge of areas I had not previously before considered, broadening my horizons and outlook of the somewhat intimidating world of work waiting for when studying was over.

The most invaluable aspects of my day were, no doubt, networking with new friends and companies whilst observing the breathtaking view of London, and the knowledge I have gained from all the sponsors and volunteers who helped to organise the event. To anyone who is considering entering the School Leavers’ Challenge next year – just do it, be yourself, learn from every experience it offers, and have fun. You never know where it will take you; as for myself, the next place will be the BT Headquarters, and this time next year, that may be you.