coding, future is female, networking, women in technology

My first-ever panel! Welcome to CodeFest 2021

CodeFest is a huge, annual conference hosted by Code First Girls, which provides women with tech talks, career booster sessions and networking. I won an award at CodeFest 2020 last year, but this year, we were back in person!

I was invited to speak at Day 2 about my experience interning at Rolls-Royce’s AI Innovation Hub (R2 Data Labs), and how women can kickstart their careers in the technology industry.

This was my first-ever tech panel, so I thought I’d write up what my day looked like.

Welcome to my day at CodeFest 2021!

7.00am: Wake up, have a coffee, and re-read the panel brief from CFG. Mentally gear up for the trek to Canary Wharf from South London.

8.45am: The Jubilee line is magic, isn’t it? I check in to the awesome Level39 – a collaboration space for leading tech startups and talent. I’d love to meet more people in the startup world, so I’m pretty excited to be here.

9.00am: Set up for a morning of calls with my startup team at Ocula Technologies, including our daily stand up and a meeting with our engineering team to discuss our backlog. I nab a seat next to the window, and have maybe the best Zoom background of my career to date (see below).

Not too shabby…

12.00am: Time to meet my co-panelists! I had an amazing time interning at Rolls-Royce earlier this year, and worked with the brilliant Caroline, Manisha and Rebecca. Even though we worked together for 5 months, this will actually be my first time meeting my ex-colleagues in person. Off Zoom, Rebecca & I realise that we are both… tall. We catch up over lunch and get ready to take the stage.

12:40pm: We join the CEO of Code First Girls, Anna Brailsford, on stage. We’re live-streaming the conversation, but I hadn’t realised that we also had a live audience of over 100 women from the community. I also haven’t used a hand-held mic before! We had a great time talking about our careers and experiences, and enjoy a Q&A with the audience.

1.20pm: Just like that, my first panel is done! This was so fun, and I’d love to do more tech events in future. I catch up with a couple of attendees and make a note to watch back some of the earlier talks on catch-up.

1.30pm: There are some great talks lined up for the afternoon for the community, but for me, it’s back to work. Rebecca & I co-work and enjoy the awesome views over the city. I put on the CFG Day 2 livestream in the background.

We both were knackered after!

3pm: Whilst I’m 5-tabs-deep trying to figure something out in Jira, a CFG community member comes over and says she was one of my Python class students back in February, and now works in tech! Awesome. I drop my co-instructors a text to let them know.

5pm: After working through my board, it’s time to call it a day – I thank the CFG team for a great day and head to central for a celebratory drink with the panel.

So, that was my day! Here were 3 things I learned:

  1. Building communities exists online and offline. I ran into at least 5 people in-person during CodeFest that I knew through CFG, GirlCode, or other volunteering initiatives that I’m involved in.
  2. We are all working towards the same vision. The variety of talks and speakers all centred around the question of how we build for the future in a way that includes everyone – awesome.
  3. In speaking up, you affect more people than you realise! I didn’t expect such a great reaction to our panel, and it made me realise the importance of speaking up and sharing our experiences.

I had no idea what to expect from the day, but now I can safely say that I’m looking forward to my next community event already.

You can watch Code Fest Day 2: Career Booster here. I’ll also be doing a write up of some of my favourite parts of our panel!

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future is female, networking, women in technology

Why Being Non-Tech in Tech is a Storytelling Superpower

When I first started out looking at careers in technology, I used to want to hide my humanities background. I would make vague allusions to my previous studies, or skip the question entirely….

Everything changed for me when I started owning my achievements to date, and advocating for the skills that I bring to a team!

I believe that storytelling is one of the most important skills for new graduates. By that, I mean understanding what makes you unique, and how to pitch that to potential employers and connections across your network. 

However, it’s not natural, and it doesn’t come easy, especially in the tech world.

If you’re in this position, here are 3 starting points to reflect on what you bring to the table:

  1. You have a new perspective. Diversity of thought has been shown to have value for business. If you have a different background to everyone else at the organisation, chances are, you see what is unclear to external players, and will be able to notice and challenge different elements of the project.
  2. You’re here out of passion, not out of automation. If you’re working to make the switch into tech, that’s a conscious choice you’ve made. It requires hard work and a strong interest in the industry. This means you’re more likely to have thought through why this could be a great fit for you!
  3. You’re a resourceful, self-led learner. With the pandemic, there are more free, accessible e-learning resources than ever before. Whether it’s learning to code, reading articles and reports, speaking to people in the industry… your proactive, self-enabled learning journey shows your initiative and drive.

Ready to challenge yourself this week? 

Sit down with your CV and see what high level “story points” you can see across your experience.

Then, think about how your unique traits, attributes and skills could be applied to a technology environment, and how it makes you a competitive candidate.

Once you have your story nailed, you will find it much easier to write job applications, and to grow your online presence. I’m looking forward to hearing about your next chapter!

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advice, networking, women in technology

First Day…. Not in the Office? 3 Ways to Build Virtual Collaboration

A year ago, I never expected I’d be working in an AI Innovation department. But, I think that past me would’ve been even more surprised to find out that I’d be starting from my dining room table!

A month in, I’m getting used to balancing working from home during the pandemic. Here’s 3 of my top tips for communication and teamwork that I’ve learned from starting my new tech role remotely:

  1. My gold question for new connections: “What’s the best way to contact you?”. When you’re networking online, and meeting various people across the organisation, it’s important to remember that everyone has individual preferences. I’ve found it invaluable understanding the best way to communicate with different members of my team to ensure the most efficient and quick responses.
  2. Not everything needs to be a video call. Zoom fatigue is real. If you have opportunities in your day, depending on the situation, see if your coworker would be open to a regular phone call! After the first week, my mentor and I switched to having our weekly catch up over the phone, meaning we can get out for a walk whilst we discuss the week. This helps me to be more open and relaxed during the conversation, as well as adding some variety to my day!
  3. Don’t be afraid to schedule in time when you need it. Usually, you’ll have access to your colleagues’ calendars. In the office, if you were struggling, you’d give someone a tap on the shoulder. Working remotely can make support feel less accessible, so it’s important to be proactive about seeking guidance. It’s difficult for your team to know what your day looks like, so get into the habit of reaching out!

Any first role is already challenging, and it’s important to recognise your resilience and adaptability! Your team will also want you to feel comfortable and confident in your new role, so feel free to discuss the above when you’re onboarding. Good luck!

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advice, future is female, her business now, networking, personal development, the future is female, ucl, undergraduates, women in business, women in technology

Why Young Women Should Post on LinkedIn: An Anti-Cringe Crash Course

Isa, how do you even start to post on LinkedIn?

– too many people, to me, in weird and wonderful scenarios (including pre-Covid house parties..?)

Now, whether or not this is something I’m okay with being my core personality trait (unsure), there’s a lot to be said for getting your name out there, especially as a woman just starting out on the career ladder.

But, why should you post on LinkedIn?

Here’s a couple of reasons why I think posting on LinkedIn is a great thing for young women to do:
  • Updates your network (and potential interested parties) about what you’re up to. You never know who’s paying attention! A lot of my opportunities have come about because seeing a post of mine has encouraged someone to get in touch.
  • Normalises being proud of your achievements – something that women are statistically much less likely to do. However you dress it up, self-promotion is a part of career progression, and an important part of closing the pay gap. A disclaimer that posting on LinkedIn doesn’t need to come across as “bragging” or ego – you are in control of your words and what impact you want to make.
  • Helps to build your professional identity – for your career, but also for yourself. Writing about your lessons, goals and aspirations helps you to reflect on your progress and gain confidence in your own skill set and abilities.
  • Makes your LinkedIn more “human” and personal. I was nervous about posting about starting out coding, but have since had 10+ people in my network contact me to say they are starting to learn, based off of my content. Sometimes that personal connection is really important in giving others the confidence to try something new!

Sounds good? The next step is actually writing something.

I’m not a professional, but as we just said, hearing from someone you know can sometimes make all the difference!

Here’s my advice & experience:

  1. Get over yourself (..!) – no one is as invested as you are. The main roadblock for most people I have spoken with is the idea of judgement. Ironically, these same people themselves generally have a positive perception of others posting on LinkedIn. If other people can do it, so can you, and you have a lot to offer! It also gets easier the more you do it.
  2. Link to relevant organisations using @. This helps to increase the exposure of your article.
  3. Use relevant hashtags – but not too many. LinkedIn will often autosuggest hashtags dependent on what you’ve written. Use some of the most relevant ones to improve engagement but don’t #use so #many that your #post feels #artificial and #awkward.
  4. Bring out your personality. It’s cliche, but ultimately, we like to listen to stories and hear authenticity. Over-the-top clickbait or corporate content doesn’t tend to do well; your audience will be interested in you and how you’re doing!
  5. Photo content tends to perform better – especially if it has you in it. If you feel comfortable with this, it makes your post more personal.
  6. Keep it simple. Most of the time, your post doesn’t need to be incredibly long or complex. Think about what kinds of posts tend to grab your attention on LinkedIn, and where appropriate, mirror their length / content.
  7. Most importantly: create value. Whether this is what you learned, your story, giving thanks to others, an offer of help… think about how your post could help others around you. If you’ve have me on LinkedIn, you’ll notice that most of my posts include an offer that I’m more than happy to chat about the subject with anyone interested. You’d be surprised how many people take me up on it!

Here’s an example:

All together, that looks something like this ->

In this short post, you get an idea of where I’m at:

  • Developing my research skills, especially quantatitive data analysis
  • Working in a remote environment to achieve project goals
  • Positive experience at the Constitution Unit and grateful for their support
  • Looking forward to my next chapter at ClassOf2020

Feeling good?

We’ve covered why it’s a good idea to get comfortable with “self-promotion”, and how you might go about it.

This concept goes beyond LinkedIn, and I would encourage you do to further reading on why it’s important to own your achievements.

Got any questions? Drop me a message and let me know if I can help. And, if you’re ever feeling nervous, link me your post and I can show some support!

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advice, her business now, insight days, internships, networking, ucl

10 Tips to Break into Consulting at Uni

With its fast-paced learning environment and its consultants cracking some of industry’s biggest challenges, it’s clear why consulting is a popular career destination amongst university students. However, it’s also notoriously hard to get into and competition is fierce.

This week, an incoming first-year on my UCL undergraduate degree reached out to me via LinkedIn to ask:

Can you give me some tips to get into the consulting industry?

We had a conversation about the ways in which proactive candidates can stand out in the consulting applicant pool, which served as a reminder that a few years ago I had barely heard of consulting myself.

Fast forward to now, as an applicant from a non-traditional background with experiences and insights at firms like McKinsey, BCG and Oliver Wyman, I thought I’d share some of what I’ve learned over the past 4 years.

Here are some of my key pieces of advice for breaking into the sector:

1. Gain leadership experience – for your application, but also for yourself. Leadership is not only a highly employable skill, but challenges and develops you in an unparalleled way to many other roles. I’m a great believer that the things you take on during university and beyond should serve you as much as it would serve a potential future employer. Think about what you’re passionate about and research organisations and groups where you could get involved. Paid or voluntary, huge- or small-scale, learning to work with others to deliver impact will help you in a consulting fit interview.

2. Evidence problem-solving / overcoming challenges. And, importantly, not necessarily just in a consulting environment! There’s a common misconception that consultancies are exclusively interested in your experiences solving consultancy-style issues. Any opportunity to discuss assessing situations and solving problems comes in handy; I often end up talking about my experiences in leading youth social action programmes.

3. Network with people at consulting firms to understand what the role is like and get advice. This could be an entire article in itself, but doing this will help you start to piece together the industry. There’s various ways to do this – lots of unis have an alumni network, you can reach out to people on Linkedin or you can see if firms you’re interested in have “About Consulting” resources on their website. No link to consulting at all? Wrong, you have me! I’m no expert but drop me a message and I’ll do my best to help you out.

4. Try to “level up” your involvement with the industry. Rather than starting totally cold, you can build a background of evidenced interest in the industry step-by-step. (For example, going to talks > getting onto insight days > a first year spring week programme > penultimate year summer internship)

5. Make the most of your university societies. Some student-run “careers” societies do an excellent job hosting a variety of talks and events about getting into industry. I’d recommend getting on the email lists/social media of a couple to start you off; these tend to be quite passive, low-commitment memberships, which mean you can just keep an eye out for their upcoming events etc. and apply for ones you’re interested in.

6. Understand what makes you different, and how to express your story. In recent years, companies are starting to recognise that a diversity of workforce leads to better business. Therefore, it’s less of a disadvantage than before to have a “non-traditional” background for consulting. However, the trick is understanding how to summarise and pitch yourself to others. I recently completed a short, free LinkedIn Learning course on this which broke down this process.

my university’s Business Society invited members to participate in the DECA Case Study competition in Canary Wharf

7. Get comfortable with case studies. If you make it to the consulting interview, chances are you’ll have to complete at least one case study interview. Case studies are simplified examples of business problems, which give you an opportunity to demonstrate the way you tackle problems. There are lots of free resources online about this – if you’re interested in a follow-up post of some of my favourites, just drop me a message.

8. Research different firms and approaches. It’s easy to homogenise “consulting” as one big job bracket, but the reality is that there is enormous diversity within the industry. By researching different organisations and their approaches, you’ll gain a better understanding of what parts of the consultancy industry interest you most.

Bright Network organised a Women in TEC Conference at Old Street

9. If applicable, get involved with events and networks aimed at underrepresented groups. The industry is changing, but the reality is that the majority of business leadership remains straight, white and male. To combat this, lots of consultancies have networks aimed at recruiting and retaining underrepresented talent (including but not limited to: women, BAME, LGBT, first generation). If you identify with an underrepresented group, I’d recommend that you search for the social media sites, newsletters and groups of these networks, as you may be eligible for additional events and opportunities to help counter this imbalance.

10. Gain experience in other sectors. It sounds bizarre to say “to break into one industry, try out another”, but consultants gain a breadth of experience across industries throughout their careers! Don’t be disheartened if you can’t gain direct consulting experience; most consulting firms acknowledge that it’s a difficult industry to get experience in, and are receptive to hearing about what you’ve learned and enjoyed in other areas.

Got any questions? As always, feel free to leave a comment or get in touch.

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advice, internships, networking, undergraduates, women in business

25 Questions to Ask your Interviewer

No matter what your interview is for, there is only one question that I can nearly guarantee your interviewer will ask you:

“So, do you have any questions for us?”

Nearly all interviews will end with an opportunity to ask your potential employer a question or two. It’s a great opportunity to learn and can also be a chance to demonstrate your interest and proactivity. However, it can be hard to think of what to say on the spot.

One of the easiest ways to combat this is have a think before your interview about what you might like to ask.

To help you out, here’s a handy list of some straightforward, industry-neutral questions to get you started. Feel free to adapt them depending on your role and personal situation!

Day-to-day

  1. What would an average day in this role look like?
  2. What kind of work would occupy most of my time?
  3. Broadly, who would I work with on a day-to-day basis (aka team composition: individually, in a small team, international team)?
  4. Are there opportunities for international work?
  5. Who would I report to? How does the management system work?
  6. (if applicable) Are there support networks within the company for different groups (eg LGBT, women’s networks)? If so, what work do they do and how would I get involved?

Skills-based

  1. What opportunities are there for training and development?
  2. What kinds of skills would help me to succeed in this role?
  3. What are the main programs/technology/systems that I would use in this role?
  4. What would be the rough timeline of my first year in the role?
  5. How does the performance feedback/review system work?

Hiring

  1. What made you hire the last person you hired?
  2. When can I expect to hear about next steps in my application?
  3. What advice would you have for me as I begin my early-stage career in this industry?
  4. Is there anything which I have mentioned which you would like me to elaborate on?

Industry

  1. What are the company’s goals / direction for the next 5 years?
  2. What is the biggest problem your company is currently facing, and how could I help solve it? (even better, research this yourself and come with the angle “I read about issue XYZ” and think about what solutions you could suggest)
  3. What is the biggest change in industry that you’ve seen in recent years?
  4. I was reading about <INDUSTRY NEWS> and found it really interesting. Has this had any impact on the company’s recent work?

About your interviewer

Asking your interviewer about their own experiences is useful for a number of reasons: primarily, it helps to build rapport and gives you an individual insight into the sector and company.

  1. What is your favourite thing about working for this company?
  2. What has been your greatest opportunity in your role here?
  3. What have you found most challenging about working in this industry?
  4. How would you describe the company culture?
  5. What has surprised you about your role?
  6. What has been your biggest lesson in your current role?

Try them out at your next interview! (Albeit, not all 25…)

Do you have any other favourites?

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advice, future is female, her business now, insight days, internships, networking, personal development, summer internship, ucl, undergraduates, women in business

5 Mistakes I Made on My Internship

As the summer draws to a close, thousands of students across the country are rolling off summer internships. Inevitably, that means nearly every third Linkedin post is a success story about the awesome things that undergrads have achieved this summer!

Social media is very much a highlights reel, and for young women to succeed in male-dominated industries, we need to normalise the day-to-day learning experience that comes with entering new environments

So, I thought I’d mix things up with something different. I’ve had an amazing time interning at a consultancy this summer, but in a world where female students are more likely to suffer from impostor syndrome, less likely to apply for internships in fields such as tech and often won’t apply for positions they don’t feel qualified for, I’m here to share some of my key mistakes over the past ten weeks – and the lessons I took from them.

The 5 Mistakes I Made on My Internship

Catch the key learnings in italics

1. Assumed that quant work and Excel was way out of my ability. As a humanities student whose IT education ended at the grand old age of 15, my mind was all over the place during the Excel workshop on my first week. Whilst most of my fellow interns were flying through the tasks, I was trying to covertly Google how INDEX/MATCH worked (or even… what it was?). However, after a couple of weeks of extra effort, learning by doing and incorporating feedback from my managers, my skills improved twelve-fold.

Don’t count yourself out before you’ve even started. Be honest about your familiarity with different tools and take a growth mindset.

2. There’s no comparison between you and your peers. My intern cohort was great and impressively talented, including numerous languages, coding skills and Masters- & PHD-level students. Initially, it was hard not to question how my own skill set would compare. Recognising that this bias came from myself and receiving the support of my fellow interns made me realise that we all brought something different to the table.

An internship is an opportunity to develop your skills as an individual: focus on how much you’ve grown and developed, rather than the progress of others.

3. Tried to use the printer for the first time: auto-stapled straight through my ID card. The less said about this one the better.

4. Not specifying task granularity. Once I ended up staying in the office til late, attempting to piece together an incredibly complex piece of work in a short time frame. I cancelled my evening plans and almost definitely drank too much caffeine for a normal human. Come morning, the research didn’t cover a key element of the task… and needed repeating regardless.

When taking on a new piece of work, make sure you understand exactly what information is required and to what level – it’ll save you time in the long run.

5. It’s never too soon to think of the bigger picture. My initial approach was that as an intern on a project in an unfamiliar technical space, it would take me months before I understood enough to grasp how the entire project linked together. With time, I realised that it wasn’t necessary to understand everything to make more meaningful contributions.

When you’re working on a task, think about what the impact of your work will be for the next stage ahead, or the next level up. When you’ve finished, before talking to your manager, take a minute to summarise what the key takeaways from your analysis are and what you think would be a good next step. This helps to build a proactive approach to problem-solving.

IN SHORT…

The key message of this article is that mistakes are normal and a huge opportunity to learn. I did numerous things this summer that I was really proud of, but above all, I was proud of my own resilience and growth-orientated approach.

I was fortunate to have this experience and know that internships and early careers can be a mystery, so I hope that this article is useful to you.

As always, my Linkedin inbox is open for any questions – drop me a message here.

What mistakes have you made lately, and how have you learned from them?

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future is female, her business now, insight days, internships, networking, personal development, ucl, undergraduates, women in business

5 Simple Tricks to Build Rapport

If you’re based in the UK, you’re probably aware of the phenomenon that is Love Island (if not: in a matter of weeks on national TV, attractive young people go from complete strangers to proclamations of undying love).

Twitter and memes aside, this got me thinking about how our social relationships are built in such a short space of time. How humans associate with each other and form bonds has been a focus of nearly all social sciences since their inception: from romantic to platonic, there are a myriad of behaviours which have been shown to increase cooperation.

But what does this look like in the workplace?

Building professional relationships at a networking event or new job is daunting for many, and it can be difficult to know what to do to develop this dynamic.

So, here are our 5 top tips to making a great first start!

  1. Names. It’s in bold for a reason – this is maybe one of the most simple, but effective, relationship builders, and really worth making the effort with! Remembering someone’s name (and using it when talking to them) shows that you’re interested in what they have to say and treat them as an individual. Now, the way you do this can be as bizarre as you like… your methods are known to you alone!
  2. Find common ground. So, you’ve remembered their name (nice). Finding a talking point is the real key to accelerating relationship building. Some good places to start are: their hobbies, interests, recent local events/news (keep it apolitical and appropriate), tv, specific employee groups (eg women’s networks, LGBT networks)… If you’re still unsure, don’t worry, we have a full article in the works on this!
  3. Remember that the other person should also want this to go well. It’s cliche but any professional interaction really is a two way thing. Most people you will meet at work will want you to feel at ease! If you’re desperately struggling to make conversation, you feel exceptionally awkward, uncomfortable and you’re not enjoying the experience, also have a think about if this is what you could see yourself doing and enjoying in future.
  4. If you’re in a new environment, chat to your peers! I wish I could say this twice. My assessment centres, interviews and internships over the past year have let me meet so many inspiring and interesting people. It’s great to build a student support network with like-minded peers, and I’ve often found these connections as even more beneficial than the professionals that I met on the day.
  5. Know that your “weaknesses” are only known to you. If you’re nervous about meeting new people and find first impressions difficult, just know that every person you meet is a clean slate. Relationship building is often a case of fake it ’til you make it, and the fact that you’re working on this is really impressive!

What helps you to break the ice with a new colleague?

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future is female, her business now, internships, networking, personal development, undergraduates, women in business

How to Fake It Til You Make It

It seems to be the time of year that a never-ending source of confidence would be really useful. The responses to applications are rolling in, grad schemes are every 2 meters, university society AGMs are electing their future committees… whatever stage you’re at, everyone is facing their own challenges!

Rightly or wrongly, to be successful in most of these scenarios, you need to project a sense of confidence, self-assurance and calm. However, very few of us feel like that all the time, especially under pressure.

Photo by Snapwire on Pexels.com

Where do you even begin?

There are 3 key steps that I take every time I approach a new challenge.

1. Challenge Your Mindset

Understand that everyone is nervous. Really. No matter how confident someone else might seem, trust me, they will have their own areas of weakness that they worry about. For me, whilst I’m very confident in group work and public speaking, I often worry if I’ll be at a disadvantage coming from a non-Econ/Maths/Management background (especially not having studied Maths since GCSE!). High achievers in particular have been shown to be subject to impostor syndrome, which is a tendency to assume that even though you’ve achieved some great things, you’re just a “fraud” who is waiting to be “found out”. In reality, most people feel this way, so it’s important not to compare yourself to what you perceive others to be.

Change how you view nerves. I watched a video a few years ago that completely changed my attitude towards stress and nerves. You can check it out here!

Remind yourself of your other achievements. You’ve overcome a lot of challenges in your life to date! Remembering what you’ve faced and the lessons you’ve learned is a great way to put things into perspective and stop this event feeling like the be-all, end-all.

2. Prepare for the Occasion

Wear an outfit that you feel comfortable and happy in. Your clothes should be the least of your concerns and certainly should not impact any outcomes on the day. You should dress appropriately for the occasion, but also make sure you wear something that you’re comfortable in and makes you feel put-together. The last thing you want to worry about is constantly readjusting your top, having a belt dig into your sides or walking in painful shoes – this distracts from the main purpose of your day!

Do your research. Knowing that you understand the requirements of the situation and are knowledgeable about its topic is great reassurance for last minute nerves.

Come fully equipped. Make a checklist. Seriously. I’ve learned this lesson due to the sheer amount of times that I’ve totally forgotten that I actually need glasses to read at distance and have spent my day squinting at a board playing “what word could that blurry squiggle be?”. The night before, pack your bag with all the essentials you’ll need.

3. Shine On The Day

Have a mantra or lucky habit. Some people will wear a certain perfume or have a morning routine. Personally, I like to have a mini-pep talk with myself with a couple of key affirmations before any big moment.

Smile! The ultimate social magic. Even if you’re not feeling confident, a smile encourages positive social interactions. Take a minute before you enter a new situation to breathe, stand up straight and put a smile on your face. No matter how you feel inside, we are fundamentally social creatures and your physical presence is a vital part of this.

Be kind to yourself. Whatever it is, give it your best shot, then move on with your day. You’ve done the best that you could, and that’s all anyone could ask of you!

So, those are a couple of ideas to get you started. Why not put them into practice the next time you need an extra boost?

As for you, what are your favourite tips for making yourself feel more confident?

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¿Qué? 6 Top Tips to Find a Summer Internship on Your Year Abroad

If you think finding an internship is tough, try doing it whilst simultaneously settling into a new country!

Penultimate year students are key targets for internship schemes, and this is no different in this year’s recruitment cycle. However, students on their year abroad often miss out on key deadlines and opportunities due to juggling all the additional challenges that a new environment brings.

If you’re currently on your year abroad (like me!), here’s some advice on how to find an internship for next summer:

1) THE INTERNET IS YOUR BEST FRIEND
Familiarise yourself with the recruitment cycle back home – deadlines for the vast majority of summer internships this academic year will be in December 2018 or January 2019. Begin to have a look at where you might like to apply and draw up a shortlist of programmes. Some internships recruit on a rolling basis (an ongoing process where they fill spaces as they find high quality applicants), whilst others will consider all applications after a set deadline. Factor this into your search to make sure you don’t miss out.

Nowadays, there are some great websites which will do the legwork for you. For example, Bright Network have a list of hundreds of available internships which you can filter by a variety of criteria. As an added bonus, if you get a position through them, they’ll send you a bottle of champagne to say congratulations! You can sign up here.

ucl

2) SEE WHAT HELP YOUR HOME UNIVERSITY CAN OFFER YOU
Even though you are not physically studying at your university this year, you should still be able to access all of their resources. This often includes the careers department, who will likely be more than willing to help you in your search! This is particularly useful if you’re not looking to go into any of the large corporate schemes which are well-publicised online. Your university should have links to a variety of opportunities and may be able to put you in contact with your perfect match.

For example…
At my university UCL, we have an Alumni Community which lets you reach out to Alumni and ask for mentoring or advice on entering the industry (I’ve used it personally and you can read about my experiences using it here!). We also have the UCL Careers Hub who can offer CV checks and careers advice.

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3) BUILD YOUR ONLINE PRESENCE
As you are not physically in your home country, your online presence is even more important. At the very least, make sure you have a professional email address which you can contact companies and recruiters through. Personally, I would also really recommend making a LinkedIn account so that you can list your previous experiences and build your professional network. This is also really helpful for my next piece of advice…

4) FIND OUT ABOUT RECRUITING PROCEDURES FOR STUDENTS STUDYING ABROAD
If you have a specific career path or company in mind, feel free to reach out to the company’s recruitment team for information for students studying abroad. For example, would they be able to interview you over Skype? Some organisations are willing to fly promising applicants back to their home country for an interview in person – this kind of information is really valuable to know!

Most companies will have an email address listed on their website for enquiries about their recruitment process. You can also often contact undergraduate recruiters directly on LinkedIn. Be polite in your enquiry and hopefully they will be willing to help.

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5) CONSIDER INTERNATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES
As you settle into your new country, consider if interning abroad is something that you might enjoy. Nowadays many organisations have numerous international offices, and if you’re looking for your next challenge, you could find it abroad!

Note: To work in certain countries you may need to fit specific visa requirements or language requirements. Always factor this into your research.

6) DON’T BE AFRAID TO PUT YOURSELF OUT THERE (and shock…that internships are not the be all or end all!)
Big internship schemes are not the only way to gain experience over the summer. There is also a lot to be gained from other forms of learning. For example, there may be more informal opportunities to shadow professionals or to work in a voluntary role alongside a team. These kind of opportunities are usually created on a more personal basis, such as emailing individuals or companies that you would like to learn more about. Explain who you are and why you’re particularly interested in what they do, and be sure to keep it polite and succinct. Whilst you will not get a response every time, I have friends who’ve achieved the most amazing things by just asking!

Equally, interning is by no means the be all or end all. Maybe you’d like to use your penultimate university summer to gain practical experience, travel or continue to explore your new home! There’s no right or wrong way to spend your summer, and for some, the glory of the 3 month break alone is enough.

I hope that this was a useful first step in considering your options for next year’s plans. Why not boost your chances and try out one of the suggestions above?

From me, for summer 2019, good luck, buena suerte et bonne chance!

 

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