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2 Weeks Into Grad Scheme!

I have been fairly quiet on blogging recently because of starting my graduate scheme, learning a lot every day and trying to cram so much in means that the evenings are more about rejuvenating for the next day!

That being said, I cannot believe that I have already been at Whitbread for 2 weeks. I am very grateful I got the opportunity to be on the solution architecture graduate scheme, and am very pleased I went with this job.

Already I’m getting stuck into projects and am lucky to have a really nice team around me to support me, as well as the other graduates. I didn’t realise there was so many types of architecture and what was involved, but I am looking forward to exploring it further.

For me I knew I didn’t want to be at a company that hire hundreds of grads where you have set rotations, some do and I’m not knocking that, but the fact I’m one of four IT graduates also has its benefits and I feel like I am truly in a role as well as being able to do rotations which I can discuss with my sponsor, line manager and HR to decide where I want to go next.

If anybody is in their final year of university or a year after you’ve graduated, I would definitely take a look at what graduate schemes are out there and apply early, there are plenty of websites such as Milkround that can help, but also research the type of company and role you think you want to go into! I was able to secure my grad job in December which took a lot of pressure out of final year… I wish you all luck!!

Now it’s the weekend and then back for my third week next week 🤓

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#DoIT – Testimonials

Throughout this week of #DoIT, there have been many posts from me to say why I have personally chosen to do IT as a career, and why I think you should also. But today, there will be several women telling you why they choose to #DoIT.

If you’d be interested in learning more, sharing your story or simply just connecting, feel free to get in touch via social media or leave comment 🙂

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#DoIT – Diversity

10% of IT A-level students are females. 20% of Computer related degree graduates are females.

Many people ask me what can we do to increase the amount of females within the technology industry… I simply reply reach out to younger generations and encourage them to pursue it. This is one of the reasons I’ve created this blog and this is the aim behind this campaign is to try to inspire and encourage girls that STEM and IT is possible for them.

Only 5% of Fortune 500 CEOs were women.

Diversity stretches further than female/male ratio, in the USA not many businesses have Latino, Black, or other racial identities beyond 4% of their total employees, Forbes wrote a good article on this, read here.

Social media is providing an amazing support network for anybody who feels that they are a minority within the industry, there are many Women In Tech chats, Moms Who Code, @BlackGirlsCode etc. If you’d like to be connected to any of these through Twitter, then let me know and I can help make that happen!

I’d love to have the answers to what can be done to improve upon these statistics, but I’m encouraged that we are at least moving in the right direction. For me, to improve diversity it is all about creating a good level of communication, and achieving an equal status. Treat others as you would want to be treated.

If anybody has any thoughts or theories upon this subject and how we as individuals can help, it would be great to hear, so say it in the comments or social media 🙂

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#DoIT – Jobs

It wasn’t until I started looking for my placement year jobs that I learnt what roles in IT actually were and what was expected. The IT industry is so vast, just saying you work “in tech” doesn’t really narrow it down! For me personally, I think IT jobs are split into three types: 1) Hardware, 2) Software, 3) Business-Facing (which is what my placement and graduate job is in, as I identify myself more as a people person)

It is good to understand a bit about different jobs in IT and to do work experience, which innovative apps such as Placer, can help you with! But how do you know what to apply for if you don’t know what the job role is all about?

Target Postgrad, have come up with a brilliant explanation of different IT job roles and responsibilities, see below a selection or you can view the full article here.

1)Hardware

Technical Support: These are the professional troubleshooters of the IT world. Many technical support specialists work for hardware manufacturers and suppliers solving the problems of business customers or consumers, but many work for end-user companies supporting, monitoring and maintaining workplace technology and responding to users’ requests for help. Some lines of support require professionals with specific experience and knowledge, but tech support can also be a good way into the industry for graduates.

Network Engineer: Network engineering is one of the more technically demanding IT jobs. Broadly speaking the role involves setting up, administering, maintaining and upgrading communication systems, local area networks and wide area networks for an organisation. Network engineers are also responsible for security, data storage and disaster recovery strategies. It is a highly technical role and you’ll gather a hoard of specialist technical certifications as you progress. A telecoms or computer science-related degree is needed.

2)Software

Software Engineer: The work of a software engineer typically includes designing and programming system-level software: operating systems, database systems, embedded systems and so on. They understand how both software and hardware function. The work can involve talking to clients and colleagues to assess and define what solution or system is needed, which means there’s a lot of interaction as well as full-on technical work. Software engineers are often found in electronics and telecommunications companies. A computing, software engineering or related higher degree is often needed.

Web Developer: Web development is a broad term and covers everything to do with building websites and all the infrastructure that sits behind them. The job is still viewed as the trendy side of IT years after it first emerged. These days web development is pretty technical and involves some hardcore programming as well as the more creative side of designing the user interfaces of new websites. The role can be found in organisations large and small.

3)Business-Facing

Business Analyst: Business analysts are true midfielders, equally happy talking with technology people, business managers and end users. They identify opportunities for improvement to processes and business operations using information technology. The role is project based and begins with analysing a customer’s needs, gathering and documenting requirements and creating a project plan to design the resulting technology solution. Business analysts need technology understanding, but don’t necessarily need a technical degree.

Technical Consultant: The term ‘consultant’ can be a tagline for many IT jobs, but typically technical consultants provide technical expertise to, and develop and implement IT systems for, external clients. They can be involved at any or all stages of the project lifecycle: pitching for a contract; refining a specification with the client team; designing the system; managing part or all of the project; after sales support… or even developing the code. A technical degree is preferred, but not always necessary.

Project Manager: Project managers organise people, time and resources to make sure information technology projects meet stated requirements and are completed on time and on budget. They may manage a whole project from start to finish or manage part of a larger ‘programme’. It isn’t an entry-level role: project managers have to be pretty clued up. This requires experience and a good foundation of technology and soft skills, which are essential for working with tech development teams and higher-level business managers.

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#DoIT – Money

Money doesn’t buy you happiness, but in an increasingly commercial world where materialistic objects are a trophy of wealth it is hard not to desire to earn well.

Where I live the house prices are growing rapidly, and I’m an hour outside London in a tiny town with no train station and 20 minutes from a motorway… so how am I supposed to get onto the property ladder without moving elsewhere? The answer is #DoIT

Don’t get me wrong, it isn’t right that you can earn more money in corporate companies than working within the NHS or Education system, but that is how it is currently. On average the salary within the technology industry in the UK is £62,500.

As was mentioned in the theme of Education yesterday, “Subject choice can make a big difference”, take a look at the graph below demonstrating which graduates earn the most five years after graduating (taken from a BBC article).

mediansalary

Tech may be trendier than banking, but it looks like its salaries are beginning to catch up too.

Take a look at this list of the top salaries within the UK Tech Industry (from this article):

topjobs

Money isn’t everything, but the technology industry is unique in the fact that you don’t have to have gone to university to succeed and earn well, it may not seem like it but it is also an exciting, ever-changing industry with a lot of opportunities and is necessary in every company and organisation around the world.

If you desire to have flexibility in your work/life balance, job types and sectors, whilst  earning a very good salary, then #DoIT!

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#DoIT – Education

School curriculum changes depending on the country, the government, what county you are in and what kind of school you go to… but whichever circumstances you are in, you should do IT/Computing and this is why:

You will need technology skills in whatever job you do, whether you are working in a supermarket and need to learn how the tills work and the stocking systems, to working in an office where 9 to 5 each day you will need to know how to competently and professionally reply to emails and pick up new IT software skills to improve your job. Although the GCSE’s and A-levels may not be as advanced as you would hope, it is still a great foundation for you to build your skill and often schools are creating more opportunities, read here.

Just 20% of Computing Science GCSE’s are female, falling to 10% at A-level

An article by Clare McDonald, read here, explores the lack of females taking Computing GCSE and A-level, that relays onto higher education where on average under 20% on a IT course at university are girls. If you were one of the girls to go through GCSE, A-level and university doing IT you stand a much better chance at getting a graduate job.

Standing out is good, IT is an exciting to get involved in. If you want to learn more about what it means to take IT/Computing at GCSE and A-level, I encourage you to take a look at these BBC Bitesize pages which are free and can give you a bit of an overview of what to expect: https://www.bbc.com/education/subjects/z34k7ty

Don’t be overwhelmed by what you think computer science, computing or IT is, take time to find out and ask your teacher’s opinions on whether you think you’d enjoy it. Fight back if somebody says you can’t do it if you aren’t good at maths or science, that is OK, I was not strong in those subjects either and I achieved a First Class degree in Computing… I did Art, English Literature and History alongside my ICT A-level, which meant I couldn’t meet the entry requirements to some universities. But actually it has helped me, because I am able to write reports at work and understand better user experience and colour schemes of apps etc. Don’t worry that you aren’t good enough to do well in IT!

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Life + Code

Take a look at Bekah Hawrot Weigal’s blog Life + Code… or follow her on Twitter @BekahHW

Learn about her personal reason of why she codes: https://bekahhw.github.io/blog/2018/04/23/How-coding-has-been-therapeutic-for-my-PTSD

And see here for a beginner explanation of html, CSS and JavaScript: https://bekahhw.github.io/blog/2018/04/13/The-House-that-Code-Built

I’ve found Bekah’s blog and articles included in this post, to be both inspiring and empowering!

Keep doing what you’re doing Bekah 💪🏻👩‍💻

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Throwback to School

I visited my high school the other day and it was such a surreal experience to think I’d left 4 years ago, but really it hadn’t felt like I’d left at all. Seeing my tutor and the Heads of A-level was so great to catch up with them, still the same old humour and supportiveness that I’d received at school.

I’d learnt that last year my school was unable to continue IT A-level because it had stopped existing by the exam board and because there wasn’t enough IT teachers to cover it, but they informed me that they are going to be bringing it back to my high school as a BTEC course. I’m so glad they’ve decided to bring it back because I personally felt that it was limiting the students, if I was a student there I probably wouldn’t have gone elsewhere for A-levels just because they’d stopped that one subject and it may not have led to what I’ve achieved over the last 4 years and the excitement I’ve found in IT and STEM.

With a lot of changes recently in government and the change to GCSEs, it’s left educators even more so chasing paperwork than concentrating on actual educating. I know the government are trying to entice STEM teacher training, but why would the majority of STEM graduates choose teaching over industry if the starting salary is at least £5K a year more in industry. I know it’s not all about money, but to live comfortable after university and be able to afford a house within several years, industry has to be chosen. Personally, I do want to go into teaching at some point in my career, but I want to gain industry experience before I do.

It can also be said that the people in charge of the curriculums do not understand STEM subjects (flashback to Mark Zukerberg’s hearing about Facebook) and the constant changing and innovation within them, this is why it’s hard to teach them because there’s so much content to cover… maybe they could and should, be split even further?

Regardless, of how STEM is being told to be taught or being taught, it’s apparent that it’s becoming more of a priority. 🤓

What else do you think the government or schools themselves can do to engage more students in STEM?

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Degree Results

From the moment you finish your final exam until the moment you receive your results is a nerve wracking time, however much calculating of grades you’ve done and pep talks you and others have given to yourself, it is always on your mind.

DegreeResults

A week ago I woke up very early morning to the news that I had achieved First Class Honours in Business Computing with Professional Practice BSc and an A* in my dissertation… it still feels very surreal! I’ve loved school and it feels weird that for now education has come to an end.

When I found out my result I was in Cornwall on a family holiday, staying with my grandparents whilst my parents were in their caravan at another site. So I went straight into my grandparents and told them, they hopped straight out of bed and then we spontaneously got ready and drove over to my Mum and Dad’s caravan to tell them… about 6am! The reactions of my family definitely were the best bit about achieving the result.

The messaging between all my friends from my course and finding out what others had achieved throughout that day was fun, very proud of my peers and how hard they have worked over the last 3/4 years! Especially finding out my tutor group’s dissertation grades was such a nice moment after spending many hours with them over the year. Cannot wait for graduation in a month’s time and to thank the staff of the Computer Science Department for all of their support over the last 4 years in person.

I know for sure that my experiences and my degree has set me up well for my future, and I will always be thankful for that.

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Imposter Syndrome

by Sarah Lewis

I was at a couple of tradeshows earlier this week and attended Women in Technology events and almost all the conversations I had were around imposter syndrome.  It really does affect more people than we realise, me included.

The term was coined in 1978 by clinical psychologist Pauline R Clance and Suzanne A Imes and is a concept which describes people who have an persistent fear of being exposed as a fraud.  People who exhibit the syndrome dismiss proof of success by claiming it was luck, timing or even making people think they are more intelligent or competent than they are.

I was introduced to this concept of the syndrome was about 7 years ago while having a session with a career coach.  I was trying to explain my lack of desire to progress my career further.  After chatting, we realised that this apparent lack of ambition was due to my fear of being discovered as a fraud.  The career coach promptly told me that almost every executive he had worked with felt like that from time to time, especially very successful women.

Just that one explanation had a massive effect on me, I wasn’t alone! So I started to look at myself, my career and my personal life and decided to make a change starting with “It’s time to fake it til I make it”.

I still class myself as being on the road to recovery but I wanted to share some of the tips that I wish someone had shared with me way back when.

1. Take time to learn and grow

It is not easy to take time out when we have such busy work and home lives but I found that taking the time to learn something new, work on a skill, understand the business better gave me more confidence and helped me to accept some of my weaker areas.  Strengths Finder is a great book to help this process.

2. Do not compare yourself to others.

I am fortunate to work with some amazingly strong, confident women and would always compare myself to those ladies.  I wasn’t as eloquent, I wasn’t as technical, I wasn’t as good at presenting etc etc.  So, instead of comparing yourself to others, look at your own strengths and focus on those.  You are good at what you do because you are you, and you don’t have to be anyone else.

3. Find a mentor

If you are lucky enough to find a mentor who you respect and admire and who believes in you, you are on to a winner.  You just have to remember, not to try and “be” them and to accept those compliments you are bound to receive.  Please don’t fall into the trap of excusing successes as “lucky breaks” or “team work” – another classic Imposter Syndrome symptom.

4. Learn as you go

There is nothing wrong with taking on a project and feeling out of your depth.  You are smart, you are talented – there is no reason why you cannot research, learn and practice as you go. You’d be amazed how many women just “fell into” tech roles and do not have a tech based education – please don’t let the lack of a technical degree damage your confidence.

5. Speak Out

It’s ok to talk to people about how you are feeling.  Try talking about your imposter feelings, it can help.  I discovered so many women in my circle feel the same way as I do and it really helped me feel less alone.  Try it out!

I’m not psychologist nor an expert on this subject but I hope that some of my tried and tested techniques give you some food for thought.

You can find more of my ramblings as well as curated news from around the web and details on our events at https://twitter.com/TheTechieGirls

Sarah Lewis is Director Field Marketing at Ivanti and the spearhead for Ivanti’s Women in Technology movement.  Sarah started off her tech career in an internal IT support role, moving on into IT Asset Management and was finally lured away into a marketing role where she happily combines technical knowledge with a sprinkle of creativity and indulges in her passion for supporting the women in technology community.