Thursday, 24 July 2014

Student to Stemette: Webinar #2

Career management roles and responsibilities

Tonight was the second webinar of the programme, and wow..what an experience it was. You can listen to it here, and this is my summary.

Anne-Marie, head Stemette, kicked things off and explained that the three guest speakers taking part in the webinar all came from different areas and would be speaking about career development. These were recruitment, academia and industry giving a great overview of a number of routes that can be taken into STEM careers.

First to speak was Dee Clarke from Bank of America Merrill Lynch, where she manages the recruitment of university students and interns. She shared with us hints and tips on how to create and manage a career plan, starting with a great diagram. Step 1 on the plan was asses, she told us it's important to take stock of where you are. Step 2 is the exploratory stage, looking around at what options are available to you, whether it be because of limited opportunities or overwhelming choice of fields to move in to. Dee gave examples of how she set up conversations with people, spoke to her friends and family and used this to 'drill down' to the analysis stage. This is all about 'where do I want to go?', trying to focus on one or two paths in terms of industry and goals. Step 4 is to act, the hardest one! This is all about finding your skill gap and building on what you already know to get yourself up to the next level. Dee next went on to speak about marrying together your passion and interests, and not worrying if the course you are studying doesn't match up with your expectations...that's the beauty of graduate recruitment. Transferable skills are what companies look for when taking on new recruits, and the ability to explain what makes you tick...why you want and deserve this opportunity. She explained getting feedback from people is a great way to find what you need to build on. Thinking about brand is important, you have to realise what you can bring to the table - so know your story, what you enjoy and why you're different.

Next was Dr Sarah Bohndiek from Cambridge University. The first thing she spoke to us about was trying new experiences, getting familiar with the different institutions such as the IOP (Institute of Physics) and reading around the field. Dr Sarah spoke about job shadowing and volunteering as a great way to experience different types of science and careers available, and spoke about work experience giving examples of her own experience at the Royal Observatory in Greenwich which confirmed to her what path she wanted to go down. She told us that internships are a great way to grow your skills, and the Nuffield bursary scheme for research placements for sixth form students. Another way of doing this is to extend your qualifications - learning a programming language shows motivation and organisation, studying for additional mathematics qualifications or writing practise essays shows your commitment and drive. Dr Sarah said "We may often fail...but remember if you don't succeed at first, try and try again" which really stuck with me and made me want to go out and find opportunities to try new things. She also spoke about balance, the work life balance is important especially when developing your career which requires good time management and organisation - its all about realistic goals.

Now it was time for a poll on 'what new evidence will you keep track of in your personal development file?' with the options:

  • feedback you've received
  • details of voluntary work, courses and training
  • show your working out - how did you get to your finished idea
  • notes and reflections on recent achievements
  • project and work plans
The final speaker of the evening was Bee Thakore from ARM Holdings Plc. Growing up around an airfield meant she always had an interest in planes and how things work, although her parents wanted her to follow a different career path. For a year at university, while studying for a degree in aerospace engineering, she worked with Rolls Royce on jet engines before entering the world of planetary robotics and also becoming board director at the Planetary Society. She explained the applications of the robotics work she did, and encouraged us like Dr Sarah did, to learn to program and take on projects with things like arduino and Raspberry Pi. Bee has her own company, which is a consultancy, and helps companies to realise the future of technology, and works on space policy with the eventual goal of landing people on Mars. She spoke about the best ways to make career decisions, always asking yourself 'what excites me about this?', keeping mentors on hand and actively asking them for help can really make the difference when you need advice on your next career move. Like Dee, she spoke about asking for feedback and about how to challenge yourself to make sure you're the best you can be. Bee spoke about volunteer work as a great way to keep areas of interest open, even if you aren't working in the sector and how important it is to seek out new opportunities and keep asking for help.

The webinar then opened for questions and brought together some really fantastic advice from all three ladies. I was bouncing down the stairs afterwards, completely inspired and ready to seek out new opportunities and more determined than ever to get coding under my belt along with being brave enough to tackle new experiences. Thank you Stemettes and guest speakers! 


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