I first applied for and attended the Future Female Engineers event in November 2018 after stumbling across it during my search for summer placements. The event was extremely beneficial and inspiring, so I thought it would be silly not to apply again and attend in November 2019!
The application process was very straightforward and included a few questions as well as a short phone interview to find out what engineering means to you. The team at TARGETjobs was incredibly friendly and supportive throughout the process, which made making an application much less daunting. The team also takes the time to brief you and check you are okay with everything during the run-up to the event.
The one thing that stood out to me about both years’ events was how well organised and thought out they are – the event programme has a range of activities and each element of the day is a perfect opportunity to develop certain skills or to simply enjoy yourself, network and meet new people.
This year, the day began with an uplifting motivational talk by Kate Taylor on building your own personal brand, followed by a mock assessment centre task and ‘how to get hired’ sessions where we were able to get exclusive insights from recruiters. For the ‘how to get hired’ sessions we were paired with recruiters from two companies and, although I was not paired with companies that I would necessarily apply to, there is so much you can learn from them. If you are thinking of applying, go in with a completely open mind and you could gain so much.
The rest of the day consisted of a panel Q&A session with inspiring female engineers from a range of companies and backgrounds, and the opportunity to ask current graduates about their experience. There were also other chances to network and chat to people that we may not have had the chance to speak to throughout the day. For me, the Q&A discussion was the highlight of the day – the panel members from renowned, respected companies were not only insightful but also hilarious and really down to earth. Learning about their experiences made me see that everyone has to start somewhere and career success doesn’t always progress in a straight line. Putting yourself out there, networking and attending events such as this is a huge success in itself and something to be proud of.
Although I felt nervous attending the first event and didn’t secure a placement, I still gained a lot, which I may not have realised at the time. I was able to improve my communication and teamwork skills, and most of all I pushed myself out of my comfort zone by applying to attend – I believe the confidence boost from attending really helped me in other events, assessment centres and interviews because I already knew I could cope with unfamiliar situations. After attending the event for the second time I felt far more prepared and confident, as I knew what I was going into. Moreover, during the event in November 2019 I was able to meet a graduate at Atkins, a company that I had an assessment centre for the following week. Although the graduate was from a different sector to the one I applied to, they kindly offered to put me in contact with their colleague in the sector I was interested in. I decided to get in touch with this colleague prior to my assessment centre and they spent a good hour giving me invaluable insight into life on the graduate scheme at Atkins and how best to prepare for the assessment centre, which they had completed only a year ago. Ultimately, I successfully passed the assessment centre and accepted a graduate offer with Atkins – a company I dreamed of working for!
My advice to anyone attending is be open-minded – Future Female Engineers is the perfect opportunity to learn about companies first hand from graduates as well as recruiters. Although the recruiter elements of the day are important, do not undervalue what you could learn and find out from graduates and other students too. Research the companies and find out which values and roles genuinely align with your future career aspirations, it will help you be yourself and gain the most out of the experience!