By the time of my final year at university, I knew I didn’t want to be an engineer, but I wasn’t sure what I did want to do. The turning point for me came during my dissertation, which looked at the nanostructures found in nature and applied them to different things, such as contact lenses for colour-blind people. I found this incredibly enjoyable, doing something new and different that could potentially help people. I wondered how I could get this same sensation of doing something helpful, new and exciting in my career, and this led me to consider technology.
I hadn’t thought of Sky as a technology company until I started looking through careers publications such as the UK 300. The more I looked into exactly what the company does and into its community initiatives – such as its drive to become net zero carbon by 2030 – the more interested I became. By the time I finished the assessment centre, I knew for certain that this was the place I wanted to work.
Choose your own rotation
My graduate programme is structured a bit differently from other companies’ schemes. It starts with a six-week bootcamp, where we learn about tech at Sky and agile methodologies, and it follows with four six-month rotations. We have the option to choose our rotations; we can join any team as long as there is space and it fits broadly into the programme. This was a huge selling point for me when I was researching graduate programmes – that I could try out different roles and work out what I enjoyed. Maybe some people leave university knowing exactly what they want to do, but I wasn’t one of them!
My first rotation was in strategy and innovation, looking at emerging tech and how we could apply it to help us solve specific problems. For example, I investigated how computer vision could be used to help our compliance team to detect guns and violence in our content. Emerging tech is producing so many exciting opportunities and it was really interesting to apply them to real-life situations at Sky.
My second rotation was in Sky Labs, an innovation lab where people come together from across the business to tackle a specific project. I worked in the tech team developing plugins to help run project workshops virtually instead of in-person due to Covid-19; doing something people-oriented as well as technical has been brilliant.
I am just about to start my third rotation as an insight analyst in the data intelligence team at NOW TV.
Make the most of mentoring
The biggest surprise to me on joining Sky was how willing everyone is to help. When I first started I was afraid to ask questions because I didn’t want to take up people’s time nor come across as stupid, but I soon learned that I should just ask.
On top of my buddy, my graduate programme manager and my rotation managers, I have so many informal mentors. For example, I met a senior colleague through one of my rotation managers and, through regular catch-ups over coffee, he has given me a complete technical overview of the company. He has done that just to be nice and to help a graduate and that’s amazing.
Pinpoint your passion
In some ways, I wish I’d applied for internships at university so that I could have found out what I wanted to do earlier. It may have meant that I didn’t feel I had to take a year off after university. However, there is a fine line between being forward-looking and making the most of the present. I found, too, that work experience isn’t just about internships. I’ve always had a job – I’d worked in hospitality since the day before my 16th birthday – and so I could show Sky that I had a good work ethic and people skills.
My advice is to give yourself the opportunity to find what you are passionate about, whether the right time for you is before, during or after university. A few of my friends rushed into graduate programmes and are not enjoying them as much as they expected, while I’ve had so many highlights at Sky that I can’t list them all.
This content first appeared in the UK 300, a product developed and created by the editors at TARGETjobs.