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IT's not just for the boys!

Female STEM students looking to forge successful careers in tech.

Caprice Smith

I’m sure a lot of students will see the advert for this event and think, ‘But I’m not sure what I want to do when I graduate yet’ or ‘I’m not sure I’m good enough to make it’, or (especially in my case), ‘I don’t do a computer science degree so is it even worth it?’ It is my hope that by sharing my experience I can allay these initial concerns.

My name is Caprice Smith, I am currently in my second-year reading chemistry at Cardiff University and I was fortunate enough to be able to attend the TARGETjobs IT’s not just for the boys! event at Bloomberg last October. I heard about the event by email as I have been registered on TARGETjobs since my first year at university. Despite thoroughly enjoying my degree, I have never been totally set on pursuing a scientific role after graduation, so I’ve been determined to attend as many insight days for companies/sectors of interest to me, primarily in order to see how my personal skill set could fit into other fields. At first I was apprehensive about applying as I having very little IT knowledge (just genuine interest) but the event is open to all STEM students, so they do want to see a range of people, skills and experience.

Applying for the event online was so straightforward. In both the online application and the telephone interview the emphasis from the team at TARGETjobs is on your motivations for attending the event and why you’re interested in technology, not so much your proficiency (as I highly doubt I would have made it) or your future aspirations. As long as you can answer those key questions then you’ll be fine. If you’re successful, the team contact you beforehand asking for the companies you’d most like to be paired with on the day for the skills sessions. It’s important that you’ve done a reasonable amount of research prior to the day in order to make an informed decision, as well as to be able to engage confidently with the companies and other students on the day. Again, I promise that you do not need to have a great deal of technical knowledge, just a good idea of what each of the companies do, what the different IT roles entail, which ones are of potential interest to you and why.

Overall, the day itself definitely exceeded my expectations. Everything was highly organised, the calibre of companies you get to network with is incredible and, most importantly, it’s a great learning opportunity. At first I was slightly disheartened as I had not been scheduled to be partnered with either of my top two companies, but it was explained to me by the team at TARGETjobs that they had tried to match each individual CV to the most relevant company. For me, this was a blessing in disguise as I was partnered with Morgan Stanley for my skills session. The task was a group activity and it was excellent practice for the type of scenario you’re likely to encounter at assessment centres in the future. It was really focused on showcasing transferable skills so if you are like me and your IT knowledge may not be your most impressive attribute, then this kind of activity is the perfect time to display some other strengths. A representative from Morgan Stanley assessed the whole group quite generally, but I ended up being nominated for an award due to my performance. This was undoubtedly the highlight of my day and after getting on so well with the representative and finding out a lot more about what the company was looking for, I made a point of keeping in contact.

Attending IT’s not just for the boys! massively helped me get to where I am now, accepting my internship offer from Morgan Stanley. Firstly, if I had not been partnered with them on the day there’s a chance I would never have realised the number of different business areas and opportunities that really interested me. Secondly, because I had been able to meet and impress an HR representative, I had the confidence to apply for a placement and had experience from the day that I could draw on and refer to throughout the process. Finally, it helped shape my vision of what I wanted to achieve next. I concluded that IT is not necessarily the field for me and that I would be better suited to banking.

IT’s not just for the boys! is designed to be beneficial to students with all levels of experience, regardless of whether you’re studying an IT related degree or considering if it is the right field for you. It gives you an invaluable opportunity to meet some of the best companies in the sector and learn more about yourself. I am extremely grateful to TARGETjobs for running this event and I strongly encourage you to apply!