IT’s not just for the boys! opens its doors to female students interested in a career in IT and technology around five times a year. The day-long event is a chance to meet loads of graduate recruiters from technology companies and senior technologists. As well as networking, the event contains activities designed to familiarise you with IT companies’ recruitment processes while eagle-eyed recruiters watch for participants showing clear potential.
TARGETjobs IT went along to Bloomberg’s HQ in London to witness the event first-hand. Hands up, the event is run by our partner company TARGETjobs Events, so we're bound to think it's good, but these are our genuine observations and top reasons why we think you should attend.
You could… get hired for an IT or technology graduate scheme
‘I got hired,’ says Siobhan, who is on Dell’s graduate programme and spoke to TARGETjobs between conversations with students. ‘A couple of weeks after the event I got a phone call from a recruiter I met at IT’s not just for the boys! to say they thought I’d be a good fit for Dell’s scheme.’ Now an associate project manager, Siobhan studied Spanish and business at university. ‘I’m from a non-tech background but, as long as you have a keen interest in technology, you’re fine. The event was good for finding out what sort of roles you can go into and it’s great to find out that companies are willing to train you up – there’s no feeling of being inadequate.’
Serena, a systems engineer and Dell graduate, also met her employer for the first time at the event. She kept in touch with Dell after the event by applying for an internship, and later got a place on its graduate scheme. She explains how she found the day constructive: ‘I got lots of tips on what skills to work on while I was at uni to improve my CV.’
You will… get careers advice from technology experts
The main opportunity to do this is during a panel discussion with senior women in tech who have decades of experience between them. Thanks to the panel set-up, your questions can be answered by professionals in more than one type of role. It’s your chance to get their view on the latest industry trends or ask about their career paths.
Nuggets of careers advice we heard from the senior technologists included:
- Don’t be afraid of making a ‘mistake’ by applying for a role. You should apply to a graduate job if you really want it and if you don’t get the job, you will have learned things from applying that can help you in future.
- Consider starting at a smaller company (sometimes called an ‘SME’ – a small or medium-sized enterprise). IT graduate schemes aren’t the only way to get a good IT job. Smaller companies could give you a wider range of experience early on and, you never know, your employer could turn out to be one of those technology companies that expands at dramatic pace.
- Put yourself out of your comfort zone as often as you can (whether that’s giving a presentation at uni or attending a networking event). Feeling confident is partly about practice, so get used to how you feel when under pressure and you will start to feel it less.
You will… get practice for assessment days
Part of the recruitment process for many IT graduate schemes is to attend an assessment day. You’ll have a lot to prepare for and think about on the day, so why not take the opportunity to practise the skills you need in a low-pressure environment?
At the event we attended, this involved attendees taking part in a group activity, facilitated by recruiters, and presenting their ideas at the end, with questions from the audience on how the group made its decisions. It was an ideal opportunity to get better at team work, presenting, communicating and thinking on your feet – precisely the sorts of soft skill that are as important to working in IT as technical abilities.
You could… get better at networking
Two of the perceived difficulties of networking among students and graduates are a) finding the people to talk to, and b) knowing what to say when you meet them. IT’s not just for the boys! is the ideal opportunity to meet loads of recruiters – from employers such as AIG, Argos, BP, Bloomberg, CGI, Alfa, Dell, IBM, Isban, J.P. Morgan, Orbium and Vodafone – and get practise at making conversation in a professional setting. ‘It encouraged me to go to other networking events afterwards,’ says Siobhan.
It’s common for recruiters to take note of your name if you impress them with your interest in their business or your performance in the group task. At the event we went to, attendees networked during small discussion groups with recruiters and had the chance to speak to recent graduates, as well as some of the technologists from the panel discussion. We even heard a couple of recruiters invite a few attendees along to one of their company-wide events.
You will… have a free day out at a cool venue
You need to register online and go through a short phone interview process in order to go along, but for those who are selected to attend there is no cost attached. Plus, up to £50 of your travel expenses can also be reimbursed, and lunch and refreshments are included.
IT’s not just for the boys! may be exclusively for female students, but it isn’t exclusively for those in reach of London. While we spent the day in the shiny, spacious headquarters of financial services newsgroup Bloomberg, other UK cities such as Glasgow and Nottingham also play host to the event on different days.
What have you got to lose?
Serena sums up well: ‘It’s just one day out of your schedule. You’ve got nothing to lose by going along and everything to gain.’
You can find out more about IT’s not just for the boys! here, and sign up for events with open registrations.
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