Wednesday, January 20, 2016

We catch up with Yatin Vadhia on what he’s been up to since being a finalist for the Computer Science Undergraduate of Year Award last year.

Yatin now works at Expedia who are sponsoring the Computer Science & Analytics Award this year!

This time last year, I’d just finished my January exams, and while I was in a productive mindset, I decided to spend a little amount of time applying for the TargetJobs Computer Science Undergraduate of the Year Award. This turned out to be quite a good use of my time, because a few months later, I found out I was one of the finalists for the award!

While I didn’t go on to win the award, it was still a great experience and a few months later I went on to join the company that is sponsoring the 2016 award, Expedia.

Expedia is a fundamentally a technology company, but in the travel sector which is great if you like travelling like I do!

Expedia is a very international place to work much like the industry we operate in with a great open, collaborative culture. Now, lots of companies can say this, but few can prove it. We can! We are officially the best place to work in the UK according to Glassdoor ! Our fantastic offices are located right next to Angel tube station here in London.

Expedia is a great place to start your career in tech and data analysis, we’re working with complex and interesting data, and even as an intern you’re given real world responsibility in revealing consumer insights and rolling out the latest technologies

You can read about some the technical challenges we face at Expedia on our new blog!:

Find out what Aataullah has been up to since winning the Future CFO Undergraduate of the year award!

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!

Monday, January 11, 2016

We catch up with Jessica Dowdy who won the 2015 Construction, Engineering and Design Undergraduate of the year Award.

It’s hard to believe it’s been a whole year since I first found out about the Undergraduate of the Year Awards and what a year it has been! Now that I’ve got emails regarding this year’s awards hitting my inbox, its bringing back memories of how this incredible experience started.

As I was already in the process of completing my year in industry, most of the emails I received from TARGETjobs were interesting to read yet no longer relevant for me. However, seeing a couple of emails with the words ‘Undergraduate of the Year Awards’ in the subject line quickly grabbed my attention. After reading through the entry criteria online and gaining more of an insight into how the competition worked, I realised this was too good an opportunity to miss so entered myself right away. The previous year I had been entered into a competition for a different award so I knew how beneficial this process would be for networking and for developing my own interpersonal skills. This competition involved filling in personal information and answering questions by the sponsor, Laing O’Rourke which is then followed by a series of online tests. Personally, I didn’t feel the tests had gone well at all so I pushed it all to the back of my mind as I highly doubted I would be progressing any further. As you can imagine, It took me by great surprise when I received the email informing me that I had passed this round and was invited to partake in an assessment day – I was ecstatic! The assessment day was such a great experience, not only was it an opportunity to develop my interview techniques and network with other students but we were also fortunate enough to gain an insight into the very technical and innovative engineering techniques through a factory tour of the Explore Industrial Park, where the off-site manufacturing takes place. The other candidates were highly impressive and extremely talented which made the day even more enjoyable.

The talent I was amongst during this assessment was of such a high standard, I couldn’t believe it when I discovered I had made the final 10! Receiving the invitation through the post and learning that Fiona Bruce would be presenting was the icing on the cake as I have been inspired by her work over the last few years. The day itself was wonderful. Sitting in a room surrounded by so many gifted, ambitious and hard-working finalists was extremely motivational; not to mention the attendees from sponsor companies who have all achieved great success in their careers. It was a great networking opportunity and very inspiring, particularly as a female – hearing Fiona’s speech and watching a high number of females collecting the top prize! Hearing my name called out as the winner of my category was totally unexpected and so surreal. It wasn’t until the later stages of the evening when other candidates mentioned it that I realised I would now be given the opportunity to complete an international summer placement with Laing O’Rourke in Australia. I had never thought I would actually win therefore this had not even crossed my mind – I couldn’t quite believe it!

Construction Undergraduate of the Year

Shortly after the excitement of the awards (and once it had finally sunk in!), I began planning my trip. During the summer I flew over to the land down under for 7 weeks where I worked at LORAC’s Sydney office on a rail infrastructure project located within Sydney Suburbs. The experience was invaluable, allowing me to enhance my knowledge substantially within my sector whilst meeting hugely inspirational people and developing my own personal skills through the process. Everyone at LORAC was extremely welcoming and made me feel like part of the team, allowing me to have my own responsibilities and tasks from the get-go. Hopefully one day in the future I will have the opportunity to return on a more permanent basis, but for now the focus is to complete my degree and continue building for my career through maximising every opportunity that comes my way to ensure I am continuously learning and improving my portfolio to make sure I stand out from the crowd.

I would encourage anyone in the position I was in last year would be to apply for the award relevant to you because there is nothing to lose but so much to gain – and to enjoy the process while you are doing so!

Thank you again to TARGETjobs and Laing O’Rourke for the fantastic opportunity and for a well organised and thoroughly enjoyable experience. Good luck to the candidates for the 2016 awards!

Monday, January 4, 2016

Bertilla tells us her 5 top tips for attending a Women in Investment Banking event!

Top tips for attending a Women in Investment Banking careers event

Are you a woman interested in a career in investment banking? TARGETjobs Events' prestigious application-only Women in Investment Banking event gives career motivated female students a unique opportunity to hear first-hand what it is like to work in an investment bank. A day packed full of advice sessions, interactive activities and networking opportunities - there really is no better place to find out more about investment banking and the careers on offer - and a unique chance to meet influential representatives from the sector!

On the day, attendees have the opportunity to network with inspirational women in the sector, improve their employability and enhance the skills they need to secure future graduate schemes and internships! This is an unrivalled opportunity to get noticed by members of the partnering companies' recruitment teams, meet senior representatives and find out first-hand how to start a career in investment banking.

I was lucky enough to recently attend the fantastic event. Here are my 5 top tips that should hopefully help you make the most of this incredible opportunity:

1.     Keep an open mind. You might walk into the room with numerous preconceived notions about investment banking; perhaps you’ve even heard about bankers getting no sleep for three days straight! This event will dispel those myths for good – but only if you don’t let those horror stories stop you from realising how incredible a career in investment banking could be.

2.     Be confident. You are here for a reason! You have gone through a selective process and you are one of the chosen few. What’s more, the sponsors have invested a lot by sending so many experienced representatives to the event, so they want to meet you as much as you want to meet them. Put yourself out there and meet as many people as you can; ask those questions because there is no better time or place to do so!

3.     Do your research. Nothing is more embarrassing than asking a question about the sponsors that could have been answered by a quick Google search; it could set you apart in the mind of the recruitment teams for all the wrong reasons!

4.     Keep up to date. Brush up on the latest happenings in the financial and banking industry – even just 15 minutes of scanning through the FT beforehand will really show initiative and interest.

5.     It’s okay if you don’t know the jargon. If you are new to investment banking and (like me) don’t do a finance- or economics-related degree, don’t worry about not understanding the jargon – the important thing is to show initiative and willingness to attempt things you are not familiar with. The representatives don’t expect you to be the finished product who knows everything!

So there you have it – a career in investment banking is notoriously challenging, but attending this event confirmed how fun and rewarding it could be at the same time. I hope you will enjoy it as much as I did!

Bertilla Chow, Law, University College London