I first heard about the TARGETjobs Future Female Engineers event through a careers bulletin on my university email. The event seemed like a great opportunity to network and gain a really strong understanding of the application process. Given that I’d had no experience with the application process and little relevant work experience, it’s fair to say I was slightly terrified at the prospect of finding a job – let alone my dream job.
After reading some of the previous success stories, kind of like the one I’m writing now, the Future Females Event seemed like the perfect chance to get myself out there and make the first positive step towards securing a graduate job. With this in mind, I sent off my CV and waited to hear back. A couple of weeks later I was fortunate enough to secure a phone interview, my first ever phone interview in fact! It was a great chance to learn more about the event and talk to the recruiters about what I wanted to get out of it.
Thankfully I was successful in my phone interview and started preparing for the trip down to London. I’ve only been to London a couple of times so being down there gave me the chance to explore with a ‘potential workplace’ frame of mind. Could London be the place for me? I found the great number of graduate opportunities and swanky office new builds very exciting, to say the least.
Arriving at the event I was filled with different emotions: mostly excitement, nervousness and apprehension. In less than five minutes most of the other attendees had arrived and we were all chatting. It was so lovely to see how friendly and approachable everyone was; given that we were all probably feeling equally as nervous, there was lots of support and encouragement from the other women at the event. To start the day, we had our headshots taken by a professional photographer. The headshots I’ve had taken before haven’t been very successful but I was pleasantly surprised with this one: I have both eyes open which is honestly a triumph! I’m now using the photo as my LinkedIn profile photo.
For the first hour or so we were in a conference room, where we had a brief introduction to the event followed by an incredible presentation by inspirational speaker Kate Taylor. Kate oozed confidence and she encouraged the audience to do the same. We were told to embrace our uniqueness and be brave. It’s fair to say that after the presentation I was feeling highly motivated to crack on with the rest of the day!
My first session was with Siemens. A group of us – including 10 other women – was tasked with creating a soft-landing space shuttle. We had everyday items to use to complete the task, such as sellotape, cotton wool and plastic cups. While we worked through our design and project budget we were observed by three members of the Siemens recruitment team.
The whole process was set up like an assessment centre group task and it was a great chance to learn more about the do’s and don’ts of group tasks. It’s all pretty common sense stuff but sometimes, when nerves get in the way, all common sense can go out of the window. The three main pointers I picked up were: never speak over anyone, always be inclusive and constantly ask for feedback from other group members. It may also be good to offer to be the time-keeper or note-taker.
We received feedback at the end of the session which was really useful. I was told I had shown considerable project management potential. I was so surprised and overwhelmed to hear such positive feedback. I’ve always believed I would go into project management, but I wasn’t sure I had the skills set to go straight into it after graduation. The event, and in particular the group session, gave me the confidence and self-belief to change my whole perspective on my future career prospects.
During the final networking session, I took the opportunity to speak to the Mott Macdonald recruiters. I had met them a couple of days earlier at another event and I was really interested in the company and the exciting projects they had been part of. Originally, I had asked them about graduate materials engineer roles but unfortunately they didn’t have any vacancies in the materials department. Given how much the values of the company resonated with me, I decided to take the plunge and apply for the project management role with them.
The further through the application process I got, the more passionate I became about securing the role. I had a newfound confidence and belief in my capabilities. Both TARGETjobs and the Mott Macdonald recruiters I had met at the events were in constant contact throughout the whole process. There were so many people on my side, rooting for my success, and there was support on-hand every step of the way. On receiving my offer for the graduate project management scheme with Mott Macdonald I was elated!
Earlier on in the application process, I also applied to several other companies and in most cases I was fortunate enough to be asked to attend an interview or assessment centre. My parents and friends kept asking me what the magic ingredient was to ‘cracking the job market’. I would genuinely attribute my success to the TARGETjobs Future Female Engineers event. There are so many opportunities to learn and grow at every stage of the process. I was taught about getting my CV job ready, completing a phone interview, taking part in group tasks and networking – to name a few examples. I don’t believe there is another event out there like it and I would wholeheartedly recommend the event to any aspiring female engineer.