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 caf├ęs, 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!