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.

TARGETcareers School Leavers' Challenge finalist Ashleigh Stent shares her experience at the BT Tower!

 I am very grateful to BT and TARGETcareers that I had the chance to visit the BT Tower in London for the final of TARGETcareers School Leavers’ Challenge. After having completed the online assessment as the first stage on a whim, I am so grateful for my experience and would encourage everyone to have a shot next year!

The first stage of the competition involved completing an online quiz. There was a section concerning situational judgement, where the scene was set and you answered questions about how you would response in certain scenarios. Following this, there was a timed section in which we were asked to answer (challenging) maths questions, mostly about data evaluation. After you complete the tests, you are given a score, placed on a leaderboard and receive an email with tailored feedback concerning your strengths and how to develop them further, possibly entailing evaluations of your team work skills or drive.

I had no expectations about coming anywhere notable on the leaderboard and the challenge had slipped my mind until I received an email closer to the closing date informing me that I was on track to receive a place in the final. Luckily enough, I managed to maintain my place in the top 100 and was invited to the BT Tower!

I bought my train ticket, returned my forms and awaited my trip into London! Luckily, I don’t live too far from London, so I got to leave my house at the time I’d usually leave for school – although I had met people there that had travelled from Northern Ireland to be there. I’m sure we’d all have agreed it was worth the trip even if it was long!

Walking into the BT Tower, you’re immediately met with modern, and artistic decoration of the building – with many interesting adapted telephone boxes around (purple, covered in coins, mirrored – just to name a few). I signed in and awaited the event to start. We were split into groups with different coloured lanyards and within each group had two teams. The activities we took part in were challenging and revolved around teamwork and collaboration. Despite this, each of us were individually assessed throughout on a variety of skills by representatives of various employers. We were being assessed, but the activities were incredibly enjoyable and fun! They were a great chance to work with and connect with the new people I had met in my group. 

Between the activities, we got to enjoy a lovely and tasty lunch, in the revolving part of the BT tower. I got a bit disorientated by the spinning but once I had worked out what was going on, I could focus on and enjoy the incredible views of London!

The highlight of the day for me was a session about personal branding. The session was inspiring, encouraging and motivational. It included a great balance of practical advice relating to careers and more abstract and encouraging ideas about how to express our personalities throughout the work we will undertake during our future careers.

Finally, the award ceremony- I was not for a moment expecting my name to be announced, but it was a great surprise and I am really excited to have the opportunity to attend BT’s Adastral Park Centre!

Everyone I met there seemed to enjoy their day as well as myself and would agree that the experience was encouraging, informative, and exciting! Good luck to everyone who chooses to apply for 2018’s competition and thank you again to everyone who made the day possible.

Friday, May 12, 2017

You miss every shot you don't take! Jemma Hart shares her experience at Future Female Engineers event and securing her dream graduate job with Arup.

My name is Jemma Hart and I am in my fifth and final year of a Masters of Engineering degree in Civil Engineering at Heriot-Watt University. I attended the 2016 TARGETjobs Future Female Engineers event, held at the Atkins office in Bristol.

I applied for the event online by submitting my CV and answering some straightforward questions, mainly focusing on my desire to attend the day. After passing this stage, I received an invitation for a telephone interview. I was asked again about why I wanted to go to the event and also which companies appealed to me and why. This stage of the application process was very relaxed and I was encouraged to be myself. Because of this, my passion for engineering shone through and I was able to convey my enthusiasm for the event. 

The day kicked off with a welcome talk which set out the busy day arranged for all of the attendees. We received a speech from the keynote speaker Roma Agrawal and a guest speaker Caroline Norris from Atkins. The speakers discussed their accomplishments during their working careers and shared their true opinions of being a women in a predominantly male industry.  Following this, we were given the opportunity to chat to recruiters about the application process. This really opened my eyes to exactly what employers look for in a CV and I definitely saw an improvement in my own CV after applying their advice. We were put into company teams based on one of the employers you had shown a particular interest in. This was a fun way of getting noticed by employers and also gave us a taste of what to expect at recruitment assessment centres. The rest of the day was spent chatting to graduates, established female engineers and company representatives were available throughout so it’s a fantastic way to get a better idea of each company (and for insider tips!).

I initially applied for the event as I knew it would be an effective networking opportunity, helping me in my applications to graduate jobs. However, I was blown away by how inspired I was by the event. Before the event, I had started applying for graduate jobs which is a lengthy process; I was lost on what job I really wanted and where I would be best placed.  After some time it’s easy to lose momentum, but I found this event gave me the fire I needed to apply for the opportunities I have been working towards for years. In February this year, I was offered my dream graduate job with Arup which I accepted and I will be starting this September. The TARGETjobs Future Female Engineers event helped give me the confidence to apply to roles enormously and helped me to stand out from the crowd.

Sometimes it’s important to remind yourself that you miss every shot you don’t take. In applying for the TARGETjobs Future Female Engineers event, I gained a rare opportunity to propel my career forward and gain valuable knowledge from inspiration people. As a woman just starting my career in engineering, the day removed any concerns I had about being in the minority by introducing me to strong female role models who are established in the engineering field. The event is an unmissable opportunity for any woman with a passion for engineering.