Monday, December 5, 2016

Lowri Collins' Explore Sky Tech Insight Day experience

A few weeks into my long university summer break, I received an email from Targetjobs about their latest opportunity; a technology insight day at the Sky campus in Osterley. After doing some research into the culture at Sky, the various roles available and into the graduate tech scheme itself, I decided to submit an application in the hope that, if I was offered a place, I would be able to gain a better insight into a career at Sky.

Fortunately, I soon received an email from Targetjobs and was offered a telephone interview. I was asked several questions about myself and my motivations to apply to the event, which was an insightful experience, helping me to develop my communication skills and reflect on how to sell myself to an employer.

The ‘Sky bus’ enabled me to quickly and easily commute to the Sky campus, giving me the opportunity to chat to friendly employees on route. As I arrived at the Sky campus, I was amazed at the grandeur of the site, as expected of a top tech firm. The laid back atmosphere at Sky reflected the informal office style, with open areas to work. It was really beneficial to be at the Sky offices, as opposed to meeting representatives at a careers fair, as we were able to network with employees across a range of roles and managerial levels, including meeting the grads, who were able to deliver a fresh perspective on exactly what we would be doing at Sky. We were also able to listen to the wise words of Colin McQuade, Managing Director of Group TV and Digital Platforms at Sky, and ask any questions.

The layout of the day was well organized and a variety of different elements of Sky were explored. From speakers to tours, to a talk on how to enhance your application and a quiz, it was definitely an informative day! In the afternoon, we were put into groups, in which we had to assign roles and design and make a new app for ‘Sky Cinema’. This was a really fun activity, challenging us to use our imaginations, as much as our teamwork skills in order to finish the designing and coding.

As a humanities student, I was skeptical about whether my skills would be compatible with a career in technology. However, at the event, I was able to speak to grads and members of recruitment and learn that students from diverse degree backgrounds are valued, as Sky embraces the benefits of this diversity in team projects. I would definitely encourage undergraduates and graduates alike to look into attending this event, as well as the internship opportunities at Sky, especially if you have a passion for technology and the digital revolution that is currently so pertinent to so many elements of our everyday lives. 

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

What can you get out of the Undergraduate of the Year Awards? And why everyone should apply, from Beth - Finalist of the 2016 Management Undergraduate of the Year Award

Walking onto the glass domed balcony of the East Wintergarden in Canary Wharf, full of bright smiling faces, I could not have imagined that my application for the Management Undergraduate of the Year would have brought me here just a few months ago.             

A few months prior to the award ceremony, an email from the careers centre at my University had caught my eye. I’ve always loved opportunities and the possibilities to stretch myself, so this seemed like something I would be very interested in, so I applied. I took the online tests and application thinking I had nothing to lose? I was thrilled to find I had been selected as part of the top 40 for a telephone interview, something which I had never experienced before, but I wasn’t going to let that worry me.

When applying for these awards or indeed a job, I believe it’s important to do your research, it shows you have enthusiasm for the company and a desire for success. I got in touch with the area manager from the company hosting the management award, Enterprise Rent-A-Car, she was more than helpful in providing me with advice for my telephone interview and beyond. I kept in contact with her throughout the process and she was a great support.

A few weeks later, knowing I would soon be receiving an email about the outcome of interview I nervously checked my email inbox, and there it was, I was going to London for the assessment centre!

After what was a very long but inspiring day, in which I met fantastic candidates and company representatives from all around the country, I waited for the phone call to know whether I had made it any further. At this point, after meeting the high calibre of candidates, I was proud to have reached this point - especially since my first year at University had not yet finished! I was then elated to learn I had made it through to the final. 10 out of 400 applicants!

The day before the award I received a phone call from the Area manager I had been in communication with, she rang to wish me the best of luck for the award the next day and to offer me an internship with Enterprise, regardless of what happened at the awards, I couldn’t believe it! 

The awards were a fantastic day and gave me the opportunity to meet so many amazing candidates and company representatives as well as catch up with some of the people I had met on my assessment day, naturally as the award announcements came closer I was nervous, however, despite not winning, I still felt, along with many people I spoke to afterwards, that we had all won, we were there at this incredible venue with some of the biggest names in business in the UK!

For the summer? I am spending ten weeks with Enterprise as a management trainee intern and I cannot wait to see what opportunities it brings!

My advice for applicants, it doesn’t matter what year of university you are currently in, or perhaps what qualifications you may think lack, these awards look for the people behind the application submissions, so apply, you never know where you may find yourself!

Friday, November 4, 2016

Hayat tells us how close you are to landing a dream opportunity

Hayat won the 2016 Civil Service Leader of the Year Award 2016. Here's what she has to say about the process...

Application process:
I saw an email about the Awards and was particularly attracted by the opportunity to win a place on the Summer Diversity Internship Programme. I really didn't have the confidence to go for the application but my mum told me I had nothing to lose and to just apply! This was definitely the best decision I made as becoming a finalist and then winning the award really increased my confidence in my own abilities. 

I completed some online tests (after practicing for a good couple of days as I had never done them before) I was told I could progress to the next stage. Answering the employer questions was the most enjoyable part as I was able to convey my passion for diversity and inclusivity in the work place and particularly in the Civil Service! I then progressed onto a telephone interview which was warm and relaxed so I was able to confidently express my interests and my previous experiences in different roles. The whole process was not as daunting as I imagined and I would definitely encourage anyone to go for it as it is worth the effort!

Awards Ceremony:
Once the main application process was over and I was told I was shortlisted in the final 10, it was a huge relief! To get this far was an achievement in itself! The awards ceremony in Canary Wharf was amazing. The venue was unlike any I had been to before and the array of eager and equally excited students in attendance was welcoming. It was lovely to interact with students and professionals from different fields and also to meet and speak with civil servants from the Fast Stream. 

My advice to any undergraduate would be to just go for it, never to doubt yourself and to fulfil your potential! 

Many thanks,

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Mazhar talks us through his experience with the Undergraduate of the Year Awards 2016

Application process
Initially, I dismissed the emails that advertised the Undergraduate of the Year awards on the basis that such opportunities only apply to extraordinary people. A week before the deadline I received a third email which finally encouraged me to investigate further. This time the criteria seemed more applicable and the possibility of me receiving such an award began to germinate. To address a few concerns regarding my chances, I set out to uncover the traits of previous winners through the 2015 blog entries. Many people held the belief that becoming Undergraduate of the Year was unachievable for them, however, the process still promised much to be attained.

As part of the application I needed to answer three non-trivial questions designed by the sponsor, Expedia. I struggled to conjure up anything relevant, leading me to conclude I wasn’t destined for this journey.

Forty-eight hours before the deadline, I received a call from the Undergraduate of the Year team urging me to complete my application. I appreciated the thoughtfulness behind this gesture and the humanity behind the team. So I readied myself to battle the questions. If not for myself, then for people who place their faith in people like myself.

When it came to answering the questions, it proved beneficial to brainstorm potential thoughts or experiences of mine which were relevant to the questions. After this, I took three psychometric tests- what helped me tremendously with these were the multiple examples and tips available on the internet - definitely take a look at them!

Assessment centre
While imprisoned by illness, I received an email inviting me to the assessment centre and detailing the plan for the day. The assessment day was held at Expedia’s London office and involved icebreakers and a group exercise where we designed an AirBnB app highlighting nearby special offers. In the afternoon, I networked with the assessors and current employees. Being placed in groups with strangers to design and present an app in just forty-five minutes made the group exercise a worthy challenge. In short, the day was very pleasant despite its competitive nature. Moreover, speaking to the current employees at Expedia informed me of the work completed at their offices.

Awards ceremony
The final ceremony was the easiest part of the process. I sat down with all the finalists and the Expedia staff members that I had gotten to know, had a delicious three-course meal and listened to Fiona Bruce’s amusing stories. Although I didn’t win, I increased the prospects of me working for Expedia, featured on my university’s website and had an honorary mention during my summer 2016 university’s graduation ceremony.

If you are eligible then grasp this opportunity and apply. Seriously, throughout this process, nothing changed; I was still ordinary Mazhar. I just happened to do that little extra by applying.