Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Read Oishi's story on how she got a Vodafone internship through TARGETjobs Events!

Oishi attended many of our TARGETjobs Events, including IT's not just for the boys!, Future Female Engineers and STEMinism presents Vodafone. All helping her gain valuable insights to a variety of STEM related fields and learning insider tips for applications to major companies in these fields.

As a result of the event, Oishi secured an internship with Vodafone. We caught up with her to find out how she got on..

My internship at Vodafone

I am Oishi, Software and Electronics Engineering undergraduate student at University of Leicester, and I have just completed my second internship at Vodafone over the summer. I was working as a ‘Technology Operational Management’ intern in the team of the Vodafone’s Technology Director and senior managers. It was a great experience to work closely with such senior people at Vodafone. I worked on various weekly and monthly technology reports which involves analysing and checking data. I was responsible for production of Technology Weekly Trading Pack and the reporting pack for the Director. My role involves analyzing and managing monthly Technology Objective Dashboard and Technology Key Performance Indexes (KPIs). I was also responsible for managing the Director’s meeting governance and creating agendas, minutes and pre-reads for various meetings.

Through these accountabilities I improved various skills which includes analytical thinking, while gathering, analysing and managing information for production and review of various reports. I further improved my written and verbal communication skill while interacting with various teams within Vodafone to fetch information for regular reports. Furthermore, I improved technical knowledge of telecommunication networks and transmission techniques through courses in Vodafone Academy. These helped me to relate to the technical aspects of the reports much clearly. 

I really enjoyed working with such great people at Vodafone. The internship has been a great experience and has definitely boost my confidence a lot. I highly recommend and encourage other students to get involve with internships and build up their skills. Moreover, the internship at Vodafone became more memorable as I got the opportunity to celebrate my birthday there. Just a week before finishing the internship it was my birthday, and my team greeted me and gifted me with a bracelet. I never expected it, and I was really surprised and so pleased. I was so fortunate to be able to work with such amazing people. 

Before I could realize, the eight weeks were gone. On my last day, I had farewell lunch and following that was awaiting my final internship review, I was anxious to know my performance and was so pleased to receive great feedback from my manager. I am glad I made the most of this opportunity and will always cherish this wonderful experience and the amazing people I met. 

So, how did I get the internship?

I found out about this internship having attended IT's not just for the boys! I passed the selection process and was offered the internship for the summer. Following the first internship, I was invited back again for this summer. 

My message to other students

I definitely encourage other students especially females in STEM to take part in TARGETjobs Events and to make the most out of these opportunities. Who knows, you might end up with an amazing internship experience!

With the team at Vodafone.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Catching up with the 2015 TARGETcareers School Leavers' Challenge winner!

This time last year, I received an email from my head of sixth form about the National Schools’ Challenge (now known as the TARGETcareers School Leavers' Challenge), with some information about the challenge and a link to an online test. Whilst at the time I didn't think much of it, later on that evening I had another look and thought I would give the online test a go, just out of interest to see what it was like. I knew that these types of psychometric tests were quite commonly used by employers when selecting for graduate posts, so I thought it would be quite a good experience to have. I certainly wasn't expecting to be invited to the Grand Final, held at Wragge Lawrence Graham & Co in Birmingham, and even less was I expecting to win!

Here's my top tips for the challenge:
  • For the online portion of the test, you're given a warning before you start that the test is timed, so try to make sure you're in a place where you can focus for the whole duration of the test – when I was taking it my dad came in to my room halfway through to ask my opinion on something and looked hopelessly confused when I started frantically shushing him!
  • On the day of the final, though it may be tempting to work yourself into a nervous frenzy, try to stay calm and take it as the great opportunity it really is. You're getting the chance to spend the day talking to employers from a really diverse range of fields, networking and getting to find out what they're really looking for in employees – have fun and enjoy it! You'll be in a group with other, like-minded students as well, so though you are being assessed individually, teamwork does play a big part in succeeding in the tasks you're set.

I would encourage everyone to take part and have a go at this challenge – you never know what might happen! Obviously there are great prizes to be won if you do well, but more importantly opportunities to meet representatives from so many different firms all in one place don't come very often, and you get the chance to develop some really key skills that are important in the world of work, and find out some of the techniques employers use to assess those skills (and you also get a really fun day out!).

What's next?

I've just started Year 13, and am planning on going to university to study Maths – in fact, I just finished my UCAS application not long ago, so whilst that made the start of term quite hectic, I'm glad to have everything sorted and out of the way so that I can concentrate on my A-Level studies. I'm still not too sure on my plans post-university, but I know that the experience of taking part in the TARGETcareers School Leavers' Challenge has given me a taste of what the future could hold, and has given me invaluable skills that I will no doubt find essential in later life.

I wish everyone taking part the best of luck in the TARGETcareers School Leavers' Challenge 2016 – I hope you enjoy it as much as I did! 

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Interested in applying to the UGOTY Languages Award? We had a catch up with our Winner, Aysel!

After some very busy summer months travelling around and expanding what will be my infinite repertoire of useful and not-so-useful expressions in foreign languages, I have finally arrived in Copenhagen to undertake my LLM in Human Right Law.

It has been a very busy time for me after winning the Languages Undergraduate of the Year award all the way back in April. Immediately after the incredible ceremony in East Wintergarden, where I got to meet the lovely people working at different EU institutions, I had to get back into study mode as my exams were fast approaching. Thankfully, there was my visit to Brussels to look forward to, not to mention an additional trip to the EU offices in London! It was completely unexpected and a very kind gesture by everyone on the EU team to arrange an additional part of the trip. They put in a lot of effort to rearrange events and work their schedule around mine, just so I could get more exposure to their work in various locations. It was both incredibly flattering and very humbling to be in the presence of so many very accomplished individuals, who were taking time off their busy schedules to spend it with me.

The visit to Brussels itself was an action-packed three-day trip, whereby I probably visited more EU institutions in 72 hours than most of the people working for the EU do in the first few months of their employment. Since my preferred destinations were kindly asked for before my arrival, my whole time in the city was spent meeting what I thought were the most interesting people and participating in what seemed like the most engaging conferences. Everything from law to refugees, to new EU regulations that were coming into place, and even a lovely lunch with David Barfield was in place for me. Once more, I felt tremendously privileged to be where I was: in the heart of Europe and its legal machinery amidst the most impressive individuals from all over the continent. I would really love to thank everyone who made my trip as special and insightful as it was for all their effort and encourage every person out there with an interest in languages to apply. Just going through the application process is an eye-opening experience, whilst getting to the final stages is an incredible opportunity to meet remarkable individuals from all over the country who share the same passion as you.

Today, I am in Copenhagen to undertake my LLM, a decision, which has come to be thanks to the Erasmus programme, yet another EU initiative. Coming here for a year, meeting the country’s people and picking up the local language, was so incredible that I had to return. I am now studying Danish intensively alongside my studies, whilst also taking final level Spanish upon a reassurance by someone on the EU team that it wouldn’t be that hard. I took the challenge and although it is proving difficult at times, I love the feeling of excitement and deep achievement I get every time I commit a new vocabulary word to my memory. Thank you, TARGETjobs and EU Careers for once again reminding me how much I love languages and seeing me worthy of this incredible award!

Register for the 2016 Undergraduate of the Year awards now. 

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Our Male Undergraduate of the Year, Harrison Dent, tells us what he's been up to since winning the Award!

Why L’Oréal? Because it’s worth it!

What a summer it has been for me! While it seems only yesterday that Managing Director of L’Oréal UK & Ireland read out my name at the 2015 Undergraduate of the Year awards ceremony, so much has happened and I have come so far since that moment.

Straight from the morning of my first day with L’Oréal, I was inducted into the Giorgio Armani fragrances team and given real responsibilities and a very real workload. Day to day administrative tasks were, in fact, kept to a minimum; instead, I was given big project work, from allocating and distributing Christmas gifting elements following complex retail analysis to conducting assessments and analysis on a brand’s promotional performance to adapt and enhance their promotional strategies.

I would even spend time out of the office, analysing the market from a consumer’s perspective and feeding back my findings to the division’s Managing Director. Every task that I carried out added value in some way and that made myself, as an intern, feel valued and essential – something which is often hard to come by in larger companies.
Me at the Body Shop HQ

It has to be said, a marketing internship with Armani fragrances does not mean a marketing internship with Armani fragrances. I was carrying out tasks relating to finance, sales, logistics, commercial to name but a few; and was even given the chance to work across a few of L’Oréal’s designer fragrance brands rather than simply remaining with Armani Fragrances; from Diesel, to Ralph Lauren and even Viktor & Rolf.

As part of winning the award, I was also lucky enough to spend a few days in Paris, meeting various members of Senior Management and shadowing them in certain meetings, giving me a wider understanding of the company as a whole. Upon my return, I was given the chance to have lunch with Michel Brousset, MD of L’Oréal UK&I and discuss with him my experience with the company, his views on certain brands as well as my future career; it felt surreal to be eating fish and chips with the top dog of L’Oréal discussing what my future with the company could entail.

Towards the end of my internship, I applied for the Management Trainee scheme that would begin after I graduated. As I was already integrated into the company, the application process was extremely straightforward. After a short presentation of my work and a brief interview process, I was accepted onto the graduate scheme! It took a while to sink in that before my final year at university had begun, I had already secured a position on a graduate scheme for the following year!

I can honestly say that working for L’Oréal has given me some amazing opportunities and has provided me with a brilliant platform from which to launch a future career. The company as a whole supports its employees in any and every way possible and makes each and every person from the top to the bottom feel valued and important. Although I knew little about neither the beauty industry nor marketing in general before I joined, I can now say that I have a passion for both and cannot wait to start next year’s graduate scheme. Applying for the Male Undergraduate of the Year award is turning out to be one the best decisions I have ever made in terms of my future career!

Myself with Michel Brousset, Managing Director of L'Oréal UK!

Apply for the 2016 Undergraduate of the Year awards now.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Decisions: do I get a graduate job or do postgraduate study?

If you’re struggling to make a decision between doing postgraduate study or getting a graduate job, here are some pros and cons that might help you weigh up your options.

Pros of postgraduate study…

  • It might be the key to your dream job. Some graduate schemes and roles require a masters/post-doctoral degree or equivalent. Some sectors require graduates to undertake a conversion course if your first degree isn’t in a relevant discipline – including IT, law and property – and a PGCE is the usual route to becoming a teacher. For graduates whose dream career requires this kind of further study, it’s a no brainer.

  • You get to spend more time studying the subject that you love. Some graduates can’t wait to delve deeper into the topics that interest them through postgraduate study. However, you might have hated your degree and find the idea of studying for another year (or more, if you fancy a PhD) unimaginable. If so, it’s probably not the right choice for you…

  • More letters after your name. Maybe you just really fancy having ‘Dr’ as your title…

Cons of postgraduate study…

  • The wealth of options for postgraduate study can be bewildering. If you think that you’d be interested in postgraduate study but feel as if you need more information about what’s available to you then get down to the TARGETpostgrad Study and Funding Fair. The fair is touring the UK until March 2016, giving you the chance to meet course providers and funding experts who will help you answer your questions.

  • You might be worried about getting a job afterwards. In some cases postgraduate study is used as an excuse to put off entering the world of work. It’s important to be sure that you really want (or need) to embark on further study rather than using it to bury your head in the sand. If you’re worried about employability, it’s worth noting that most employers will value a year of work experience above a postgraduate degree, unless it is directly relevant to the role.

Pros of getting a graduate job…

  • You earn a wage. After three or more years at university living off a student loan, many graduates can’t wait to start to start earning money. Even if it’s just to start paying back some of that debt…

  • You usually get on-the-job training. Many graduate schemes and jobs offer the opportunity for candidates to work towards a professional qualification or receive training while working. Some employers also allow graduate employees to take designated study leave to prepare for exams. If financial concerns are putting you off postgraduate study, but you’re keen to work towards further qualifications, this could be the route for you.

Cons of getting a graduate job…

  • It might be more difficult to start postgraduate study later on. It is not uncommon for people to return to education later in life, but obviously this is not always simple if you are in a full-time graduate position – it can sometimes involve taking time out of work.

  • It can be pretty stressful. University is tough and embarking on a demanding graduate career immediately after graduating can be a recipe for burnout. Although it’s not advisable to take a five year break, it’s not uncommon for graduates to take a year out if they do feel overwhelmed.

  • You have to start paying back your student loan once you start earning £21,000. Need I say more?

Whichever route you choose to take, TARGETjobs and TARGETpostgrad have plenty of advice, from tackling the mission that is writing a cover letter for a graduate job to deciding where to do your postgraduate study. If you’re really struggling, the TARGETjobs career planner can help you to become clearer about your career options and make a more informed decision about your career path.

Considering postgraduate study? Want to know more?

If you are considering undertaking postgraduate study, chances are you have a fair few questions - 'How will I get funding?', 'Which universities should I apply to?', 'What course is right for me?'

TARGETpostgrad is the leading provider of postgraduate fairs in the UK, giving you the opportunity to meet course providers and funding experts from across the UK, Europe and beyond. All of this and more for FREE!

2015/16 PG Fairs - dates and locations

Find out more and register to attend on the TARGETpostgrad website now. 

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Read on to see what our runner up Alexander has been up to since the UGOY awards!

Name: Alexander Mäkelä
University: University of Lancaster
Course: BA (Hons) Politics, Philosophy, and Economics

I felt that the Undergraduate Of The Year contest truly kicked in during the assessment center. It was thrilling and exposed me to an industry I’d never considered before. I’ll always fondly remember working on a business case for Armani fragrances as part of our individual tasks. Using creative thinking and applying things you learned at university felt so exhilarating. It sparked an interest, so when I found out that I’d been shortlisted as a Undergraduate Of The Year finalist and invited to attend the Grand Gala in London I felt proud.

The gala itself was an amazing experience and TARGETjobs couldn’t have organized a better event. It was great to be surrounded by young, ambitious, and bright people – the vibe and energy was certainly contagious! While I didn’t win I still saw reaching the final stage as an achievement and a treasured memory. I’m also glad I was able to ride on that feeling and the momentum far into the summer.

Fresh out of university, I welcomed the first guests to the refugee housing facility I’d been working on for bit over a year and I co-founded a new initiative focused on fostering innovation on a Nordic level through large scale incentive competitions. Trying to create a public-private partnership unlike anything attempted before. With this aim I attended two separate week long political festivals in both Denmark and Sweden with goal of gaining support. I’m happy to say that I was invited to present a proposal to national representatives from the Nordic countries at a Nordic Council meeting in Oslo just a few weeks back and the dream is very much still alive! Even as I’m writing this blog post, I’ve just returned from the Association of Space Explorers’ annual congress, oddly enough due to another contest I entered - trying new things and following your dreams can truly bring you to unexpected places!

Apart from that, as a finalist of the Undergraduate Of The Year I was offered a placement within the L’Oréal group - one that I gladly accepted. After the summer, I ended up within the commercial development team at The Body Shop. So far the job has been great, plenty of new things to learn (especially as I’m working with new makeup products – as a guy that’s not easy I’ll tell you!). Plus living in London and getting to explore the city has been a fantastic experience so far and I’ve only gotten started!

I’d say take bold steps as you’ll never know where you’ll end up and who you’ll meet during your journey. For me, the experiences I got with Undergraduate Of The Year opened new opportunities and paths I could never have imagined before. I live and work in one of the most vibrant cities on the planet. Every day as I walk to work I think to myself, I live in a city that almost has as many people as my home country. It always baffles me, it’s simply amazing and I can’t thank TARGETjobs and Undergraduate Of The Year enough for that feeling.

Pre-register for the 2016 Undergraduate of the Year Awards now.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

We caught up with our 2015 UGOY Future CFO winner to see what he's been up to!

With the summer coming to an end I can truly say that winning an Undergraduate of the Year Award has had a huge impact on me the past few months. I’ve not had much of a break over the summer break but I suppose it is worth it in the long run! Alongside my trip to Shanghai, I also interned at Grant Thornton and TalkTalk, the second being the internship I won with the award. Both internships were brilliant at exposing me to the world of finance. Coming from a mathematics background, it has been an excellent opportunity to discover finance in practice and also in industry.

At Grant Thornton, I spent four weeks in the audit division. I learned about how the process takes place and I was able to look into different stages of the audit for a number of clients. However, I spent most of my four weeks at a larger client, and was able to see the transition from the middle of the audit, nearing to completion. This was a great opportunity as it meant that my work was varied, and I was able to gain more exposure. Also, spending most of my time at a single client gave me a glimpse into the real life of an auditor. I worked with a great team of people who were always willing to help despite my lack of financial knowledge!

I won the internship with TalkTalk through ACCA, and I was very excited to work at such a large company. I did not know much about telecommunications, but working at TalkTalk has shown me that it is an interesting and lively industry. I was looking forward to it from the beginning as it would be an insight into the other side of finance, being in industry. I was lucky enough to gain an insight into different parts of the company through finance, the main two departments being overheads and accounts payable. I enjoyed the internship very much as I was able to find out all the work that goes into producing financial statements. I never had much exposure to financial statements before this summer, but the internships have really helped me discover how not only to understand them but also the information about the company you can gain from them! Also, my internship timed with their half year end, and I was able to take part in several meetings with the managers and finance controllers, which was really interesting as it gave me a flavour of the transition from finance to business, and how financial information can be used to make business decisions.

As I mentioned before, ACCA had kindly presented a trip to Shanghai as part of the award. This was a fabulous opportunity where I met with many financial leaders including CFOs! I was given the opportunity to shadow a CFO at Starwood Hotels Group, one of the largest hotel groups in China, and I learned more about the CFO role itself. I also had the opportunity to meet Grant Thornton in China, which was amazing having already worked at the company in the UK. Speaking to several partners, I learned about business strategies that were being implemented and I was pleased to see that the same values and ambitions in the UK were being resonated in China!

Speaking to the CFOs, I discovered the transition between being an accountant and being able to manage and lead the finance department, and the skills that are required to ensure the success of your career and the organisation. I learned how the ACCA qualification helps one achieve such a transition. Whether it’s here in the UK or in Shanghai, the qualification is looked upon highly, and it is throughout the world. It lets others know you have the technical knowledge needed for a business to operate successfully. The trip really opened my eyes to the recognition for such a qualification, I hope to one day become a qualified accountant myself!

The award has really opened up a lot of doors since I won in April. I’ve been able to expand my network internationally and I discovered more about China, a country I never imagined I would travel to anytime soon! Since ACCA and TARGETjobs are so well recognised, winning the award has really boosted my CV. Being able to take part in internships over the summer has also boosted my CV, but it has also helped me discover new skills that I may not have throughout my academic life. Being able to gain an insight into finance in both practice and industry has confirmed my ambitions to work in finance. The award has helped me decide where I would like my career to take me, and I do hope that I can one day become a CFO!

If there is even a small part of you that believes you can become an Undergraduate of the Year I would insist you apply. Not only is it amazing recognition, but you will get to take part in so many things that could have lasting impacts on your future. I never imagined I would be winning an award when I applied, but I also never imagined the opportunities that would come my way having done so. It has been a fantastic half year since I won, and I only hope the opportunities to learn and develop more keep coming my way!

Pre-register for the 2016 Undergraduate of the Year Awards now. 

Runner up Laura tells us what she's been up to since the UGOY awards

Name: Laura Mckechnie
University: University of Strathclyde
Course: BA (Hons) Finance and Marketing

I first heard about the TARGETjobs Undergraduate of the Year competition from an e-mail sent to me by my careers service at my university. I had no expectations of making it through the online tests given the tough competition but nonetheless, I had nothing to lose by applying.

The online tests were something I had never experienced so I was extremely surprised when I found out that I was through to the top 36. I can remember my excitement when I set off for ACCA’s headquarters in London for their assessment day. This was by far the most challenging part of the competition. I was pushed out of my comfort zone but I remained confident in my own abilities. There was no way of telling how each candidate had performed but I left having met some very inspiring, talented young people.

To my amazement, I found out that I had reached the final 10! Before the final in Canary Wharf, I was invited back to ACCA’s headquarters to meet and network with some representatives. It really hit me when these busy professionals had taken the time to come and speak to me and the other finalists about our career aspirations. It was at this point that I also noticed I was one of only two females to make the final cut. This filled me with even more pride.

The final in Canary Wharf was something else. The highlight for me was sitting next to the CEO of ACCA, Helen Brand, throughout the award ceremony. It was a surreal experience that I will never forget. I would just like to take this opportunity to thank TARGETjobs and ACCA for their input and organisation of the event.

If you have read this blog and are thinking of applying this year, my advice would be to go for it! Even if you are having doubts, just think – what’s the worst that can happen?

My top tips for this year's applicants would be:

1) Prepare – carry out research and practice online tests (I found very useful)
2) Get involved – don’t stand back and let everyone talk over you but don’t be over powering either
3) Enjoy and learn from the experience – you will most likely encounter challenges, some harder than others, but try and learn from them as this will help you in the future

Feel free to contact me on LinkedIn!

Pre-register for the 2016 Undergraduate of the Year Awards now.