advice, personal development, the future is female, ucl, undergraduates, women in technology

Politics to AI: My Pivot Into Tech

It’s coming up to a year since I graduated from UCL in the manic haze of Lockdown 1.

So, it feels poignant to have just been interviewed by my previous university about my journey into tech since graduating!

You can read the full interview below:

UCL Careers: Interview with an Alum – Isabel Scavetta and the ‘Career Pivot’

1. Since graduating from UCL, you’ve spoken about a “complete career pivot” and being “grateful for having to re-evaluate”. Can you tell us more about your career journey so far?

I’m currently known for my work in the technology field, especially around improving its accessibility and diversity, which feels ironic given that I come from a non-technical background!

During my studies at UCL, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do after graduating. I did a couple of internships, attended a variety of careers-focused events and studied in both London and Seville. Through that time, I learned that I loved creative problem solving, teamwork and building solutions with real-world impact. I graduated in the pandemic summer so decided there was no time like the present to challenge myself to pursue my interest in tech.

What makes technology stand out for me is how I’m engaged by learning more. Many other industries have a slower pace of change whereas, for me, tech has only become more interesting as my journey has progressed.

So, I started coding with Code First Girls, studied for and passed several Microsoft qualifications, participated in technology conferences and Hackathon challenges, and reached out to women in the industry. Before long, my hard work started to pay off and I was able to use this experience to start giving back to others, achieving a Fellowship at Code First Girls, advisory position at Microsoft on their TechHer Student initiative, and an internship in Rolls-Royce’s Data & AI Hub (R2 Data Labs).

2. As a UCL graduate, BA European Social & Political Studies (ESPS), you have commented that your degree helps you “every day to quickly understand new concepts, communicate clearly, and draw connections across diverse subject areas”. Could you expand on this thought? What other transferable skills have your UCL experiences given you?

People often say to me that I’ve made an amazing transition from my undergraduate studies, but I think there’s lots of complementary elements between them. The main skill that ESPS taught me was the ability to pick up new concepts and develop an in-depth understanding of them in a very short period of time. In one degree, you could study across 9 different humanities departments, and in our first year, we had an exam covering all of them! This is vital in industries such as consulting and technology because you’re constantly introduced to disparate subjects and you need to try and figure out ways in which they are similar to things you’ve seen before, and also what differentiates them.

I was an active student at UCL, as I was involved in several societies, mentorship programmes and sports clubs. Balancing my various commitments and part-time work alongside my studies helped me to become proactive and self-organised, which has been helpful in my career so far.

Also, as a London based student I got the chance to go to some really brilliant networking events over the years and these taught me a lot about presentation skills, strategy, communication and clarity which have helped in developing my personal online presence and a compelling story as to why I could be a great leader in technology.

3. You recently taught yourself coding, and volunteered at the online project, Class of 2020. How have extra-curricular activities and voluntary experiences aided your career journey?

My voluntary work and extracurricular activities were essential to making the transition into technology, and “bridging the gap” between my degree and my interest.

To begin, they showed I had an active interest in this field, which gave me a lot of content to talk about at interviews. Furthermore, they helped me to expand my technical knowledge, which wasn’t something that I had the opportunity to do during my time at UCL.

One of the silver linings of the pandemic was that so many organisations made their online learning resources accessible and free to use, which was the purpose of the Class of 2020 project. I’ve written an article where I’ve listed some of my personal favourites.

4. You’re now undertaking a remote internship in Artificial Intelligence at Rolls Royce. What does a normal working day look like for you?

My time is primarily spread across two parts of the AI Hub. I’m interested in business and strategy, so I don’t actually code in my day job!

Firstly, I’m working on an innovation project where we are designing a new capability that has potential to disrupt the industries that we operate in. Secondly, I work to implement agile methodology on an AI-based project, where I liaise with my cross-functional team to ensure that what we’re building runs to our business objectives.

Due to this there’s no such thing as a typical working day for me, but often I will be conducting interviews with experts in AI across the field, ensuring that our data scientists in the UK and abroad are working collaboratively, resolving any impediments my team may face and contributing to group synthesis and design thinking workshops.

5. You’ve spoken candidly about overcoming “decision fatigue.” If you could give a UCL student any advice when thinking about future career planning, what would that be?

Some really good advice I was given was to work backwards when you think of career choices. So, rather than choosing a job you think you want and seeing if it fits, think about what lifestyle and experiences fit you, then see what jobs align with that.

For example, do you prefer to work independently or collaboratively? Do you enjoy more analytical or qualitative work?

This is a useful frame of reference because it’s something that you can map your existing experiences to, no matter how much or how little work experience you have.

When I first started my job search, I actually sat down and wrote out a map of everything I knew about myself in terms of what I was good at and what I wanted to develop. This is helpful because it helps you take a more open-minded approach to job hunting. I applied for a really wide variety of roles – some in strategy, research, tech, healthcare – but the constant was that I knew that this was the kind of work I would find engaging. Sometimes that meant I was applying for very different roles and very different Industries!

6. Did you make use of the services/events UCL Careers offer during your time here?

I booked a one-on-one UCL careers appointment in my final year, which was useful because it allowed me to articulate to someone new what kind of careers I was interested in, and why I wanted to pursue them. I think that was a really good exercise to start thinking about my job hunt and also not to feel like it was such a solo mission. It depends on what you’re interested in, but I know that UCL Careers do sector-specific career weeks etc. that a lot of my course-mates in the Politics department enjoyed.

7. What is on your bookshelf right now?

The book I tell everyone to read is Invisible Women by Caroline Criado Perez, which is all about the implicit gender bias in data. It’s a harrowing but impactful read about the ways in which the systems we use can work against us, and a great first introduction to why an intersectional approach is necessary in technology (and other industries!) as we build for the future.

Source: UCL Careers: Interview with an Alum – Isabel Scavetta and the ‘Career Pivot’

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10 Tips from Teaching my First Python Class

Today, I returned to Code First Girls’ Python course, which I passed as a student back in the sunny days of August. Plot twist: this time, I’m doing the teaching.

Yes, as part of my CFG Fellowship programme, I’ve been paired up with two other brilliant Fellows to teach ~30 women to code. Exciting? Yes. Terrifying? Absolutely.

Here are 10 of my lessons as the session’s Lead Instructor:

  1. You don’t know how you’ll do it, til you’re doing it. All week, I’ve been wondering how on earth this I was going to do this. Still didn’t know until I was sat at my kitchen table with a live audience. Have faith that you’ll do your best!
  2. Key concepts and shared understanding are the backbone of accessibility. As it was the first class, I had to introduce lots of new concepts and terms to our students. I often felt like I was repeating myself, but actually, when I was clarifying and compounding upon what I had said, we started to gain better traction as a group and our engagement improved.
  3. Lean on your team. My Instructor team were amazing at supporting my lesson, helping fix technical issues for students, responding to queries, and dropping in advice. Their support helped me in leading the session, and was a great reminder that we were in it together!
  4. Have a huge, huge glass of water. Way better idea than the 3 tiny cups I had to see me through 2 hours talking.
  5. Everyone needs a break. Including you! I built in a 5 minute break halfway through the session for our students, and only then realised how much I appreciated the breather myself. Check in with how you’re doing, and be open with your team.
  6. Try different ways of explaining things. One of my co-instructors said she really liked the analogy I made comparing variables to sticking a post-it note on your packed lunch in the fridge. Wonder how the class felt about that one.
  7. Tech problems come for everyone, even people in technology. Is it even 2021 if you don’t ask if people can actually hear you..?
  8. There’s never a perfect time to start. I was nervous to apply for the Fellowship, as I thought I could do with more long-term industry experience first. Whilst this experience is throwing me in the deep end, being accepted onto the programme has given me more confidence in my abilities, and an early opportunity for responsibility that I wouldn’t usually receive til later in my career.
  9. Being new to an industry can be a superpower. I only completed this course myself about 6 months ago (and even did a post about my first ever class in June!) which made me wary of teaching it. However, my old Instructors reminded me that this also means I’m tuned into how the course feels for beginners, and where I need to focus extra attention for its audience. Now, I consider it as an asset to my team, rather than a shortcoming.
  10. Recognise that this is challenging, and you’re doing your best! It was a huge relief to get through the class, and hear some lovely feedback from students. I’m currently sat down with a Kinder Bueno cake (!!) from the local bakery writing this, and realising, huh, not bad for a first day.

So, those are my initial thoughts on the experience! I learned a lot today and I’m looking forward to seeing what develops over the next 7 weeks of the course. I’ll also be working with my team to implement new techniques and methods based off of today’s class.

Have you ever taught or studied an online coding course before? Would you have any advice for instructors or students? Feel free to leave them below!

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Navigating a Man’s World: Tips for Female Grads in Male-Dominated Industries

After graduating, I completed a four month consultancy internship in the construction industry – not exactly famed for its high ratio of female employees!

Transitioning from psychology lecture halls filled with 90% women to boardrooms where I was the only woman took some adjusting to.

Here are some of my biggest lessons!

The minority effect

Research shows that we all feel less confident when we are the minority in the room- be that in terms of gender, race, or age. It is important to actively address this instinctive lack of confidence. I used to push myself by setting little targets- firstly it was just to speak up at least once every meeting I was in.

As I grew in confidence, my targets got harder: to challenge a solution that I didn’t agree with, or to put my own ideas forward. Soon I no longer had to build myself up before speaking in meetings – it came naturally!

Confident language

Women typically use less confident language than men in business settings. This sometimes reflects higher levels of self-doubt: research shows that in areas stereotypically seen as masculine, women are likely to under-estimate their ability, whilst men over-estimate.

Women’s use of more tentative language may also be driven by reinforced gender norms.  We’re socialised to believe that men should be assertive, whilst women should be polite and soft-spoken. This can lead to many women attempting to soften their points in order to not sound forceful. Unfortunately, this manner of speaking suggests uncertainty, and often undermines what you are trying to say.

Some phrases to work on eliminating include:

“Does that make sense?”

“I’m not sure though…”

“… but I don’t know.”

– 21 year old me, repeatedly, after making a cogent and valid point

Being interrupted.

Numerous studies have demonstrated that women are far more likely to be interrupted than men-especially in “male-dominated” environments. The culprits aren’t just men- with women also much more likely to interrupt other women than their male counter-parts.

So how should you react when you’re interrupted? The key is to strike a balance between remaining professional but assertive. Battle the instinct to ignore the interruption, to apologise, or to ask for permission to carry on (e.g.: “I’m sorry, can I continue?”). Instead, calmly point out that you had not finished talking.

For example:

There are just a few more points I would like to cover before we move on.

I’m sure your feedback will be extremely valuable, but I would like to finish my point first.

Female role models.

Ironically, one of the best parts of working in a male dominated industry was meeting some truly inspirational women along the way! On a practical level, they provided some great advice on navigating the challenges of working in a male dominated environment. On a more personal level, seeing these women excel in high level positions massively motivated me! Your company may have women’s groups that you can join. If not, LinkedIn is an amazing platform to use to connect with female mentors who are passionate about widening the accessibility of STEM careers. Just make sure to approach these conversations politely and tactfully, and understand that not every woman is going to want to talk about gender – and that’s ok!

I hope this has been helpful! Feel free to get in touch if you have any questions or comments.

– Kiera

Kiera Adams
Article guest-written by Kiera Adams

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How To Survive as a Non-Tech Technology Team Leader

Do you ever make impulse decisions? Me too.

One of my latest adventures? Signing up as a Team Leader on 2 Hackathon coding challenges… as a UCL humanities graduate.

…Why?

(a question also asked by many of my friends & family)

During lockdown, I decided to begin learning to code. After getting a Code First Girls Python certificate, I was selected for their Career Nav mentorship programme, which advocates for women challenging themselves in the technology sector.

So, I thought, what better challenge than getting involved in 2 Hackathons: a Big Data challenge and diversity and inclusion product development. As part of my application, I clicked a button to put my name in the hat for a leadership role, without much further thought.

Turns out if you apply for things, sometimes you get accepted..!

Qualifications? Barely any. Nervous? Absolutely.

Through numerous Google Meets and agenda setting, we more than made it out alive – we made it to the Diversity Hackathon Challenge Finals!

So, what on earth happened as part of that process?

  1. Leadership doesn’t meant you have to know everything – work to use the skills of your team. Put your ego at the door and accept where your skills lie. Nearly all my team were more technically skilled than me! At the beginning of the project, we had a discussion around our personal strengths and divided the workload accordingly.
  2. Google. A lot. All the time. Accept that sometimes you will do hours of research just to figure out 4 ways not to build your final project.
  3. A surprising number of your skills are industry-neutral – use them! I’d never done a Hackathon before, but I was surprised by how much of my abilities I’d developed on my 2019 consulting internship came in handy. For example, project management techniques were essential to our overall success. And a pretty slide deck never does any harm..!
  4. Use your support network. My friends and family were so supportive during the process, and I was enormously grateful. They helped me to build confidence in my capabilities and in my ability to take up new challenges in future.

Whilst there were some stressful moments, leading on these 2 Hackathons was definitely one of my highlights of 2020.

So, if you have the opportunity to begin to learn to code, or explore the technology sector, I would absolutely recommend it!

Have any questions? As always, feel free to drop me a message.

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Our CFG / Vodafone Hackathon Project: NOMI

To name names, there’s a big problem with how society views them.

We live in a world where:

Introducing our Hackathon solution: NOMI

So, as our entry for the Code First Girls / Vodafone Diversity Hackathon, my team decided to build a website to address this issue: NOMI (know-me).

NOMI is a new website which lets users create and share a name profile with their name, pronunciation, pronouns & etymology, to normalise communicating with confidence. We built the responsive website using JavaScript, CSS, HTML & Python.

Correct name pronunciation “emphasises psychological safety and belonging”

Harvard Business Review, 2020

Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither was our website! Introducing my team.

As a Team Leader on the Hackathon, I was very lucky to work with a great team of promising tech talent. My teammates were creative and communicative, and getting to know them was one of my favourite parts of the challenge.

And, what better way to introduce them than using the NOMI app?

How did we design NOMI?

We designed our website with accessibility in mind. See below for some of the features we built together:

Another important element of the project was how we worked together as an entirely remote team.

  • At the beginning of the project, I worked with my team to create a MoSCoW project specification, which detailed our project Must, Should, Could and Won’t Haves.
  • I asked everyone to provide their experience to date and personal learning objectives for the project, so that I could ensure that the Hackathon was as positive a learning experience as possible.
  • We kept in communication through team meetings (with pre-arranged agendas), Slack, Trello, and sharing our work on GitHub.

Curious? Check out our product demo video we presented at the Hackathon Final!

The future of NOMI

As part of our product ideation, development and execution, we also thought about the future potential of our website:

So, that should give you a good idea of what we managed to design and build in 2 weeks!

We were so proud to be shortlisted into the Top 5 Final for the competition and to present our project, especially considering the incredibly high standard of entries.

I’m planning on doing a follow up post about some of the key lessons I learned through this experience, but please feel free to drop me a message if you have any questions.

A huge thank you to Code First Girls and Vodafone for making this challenge possible, to my team for all their hard work, and to everyone working to build better solutions for diversity and inclusion.

“If they can learn to say Tchaikovsky and Michelangelo and Dostoyevsky, they can learn to say Uzoamaka”

STORY FROM UZO ADUBA (2017),
3x EMMY AWARD WINNER
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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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HBN CV Clinic: Find out the 5 Top Tips!

Thank you for the great response to last week’s CV Clinic! I received over 20 CVs, the majority of which were from female undergrads outside my network, and was delighted with the response from participants.

Participant Feedback:

The process was very simple and I am so thankful that you got back to me so quickly! It was definitely very useful – I will be revising my CV keeping your comments in mind, and it’s great that I can implement them immediately. 

HBN CV Clinic participant, 2019

This review has been very helpful. Additionally, you have pointed out things that I would not have seen myself. So your knowledge and experience in this matter has been valuable.

HBN CV Clinic participant, 2019

Your points are really insightful! Thanks so much for taking the time to read my CV.

HBN CV Clinic participant, 2019

Didn’t have time to submit your application? Here are a couple of the most common feedback points that were made:

The 5 Most Common CV Feedback Points:

  1. Think critically about what content and roles really bring value to your CV. The ideal CV at this early career stage would be 1-2 pages (ideally 1), which is often possible with some content analysis and changes in formatting. Participant example: We decided to cut content that was largely irrelevant or felt arbitrary (eg rating oneself out of 5 for different skills), which had originally been included just because the original CV template had said to do so.
  2. Where you can, quantify your experience to show the impact you had. This helps an outsider to quickly understand the size and scale of your work.
  3. Don’t be afraid to rework the subsections of your CV into a structure that best fits your experience. Consider what subsection titles would best showcase your wide variety of positions. You want to highlight your most relevant and interesting roles which have helped you build your skillset to date. Participant example: We considered reworking their CV structure into Education / Work Experience / Further Relevant Industry Experience / Volunteering and Extracurriculars.
  4. A simple one but make sure to run your CV through spell check! It’s important that your CV shows you pay attention to detail and you would be surprised how often this comes up.
  5. If you can, add a predicted grade for your degree in your university section. When you’re applying for roles, most recruiters will want to see 1) that you’re eligible for the role 2) that you have good predicted grades (a First or 2:1) and 3) that you go to a target uni. You more than likely have all 3 (which is great!) so it’s worth having this information clear and up front.

As always, my inbox is always open for questions and feedback. Feel free to drop me a message on LinkedIn or contact HBN via the website.

Good luck with your applications!

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Why Women’s-Only Events are “Completely Unfair”

They say inspiration comes in many forms. Apparently, that also applies to the legendary student-run UCL page UCLove. If you’re not familiar with UCLove, it’s an anonymous submission platform for UCL students to submit their thoughts and questions (alongside their library crushes).

I was on Facebook this morning when I came across this post (in summary, women’s only events are unfair and it would be fairer to employ a blind hiring policy):

uclove

Full post – facebook.com/ucllove

 

To begin, I really appreciate people reaching out to hear the other side of their own opinion. I’m also no kind of gender/economic/market expert (sadly, my £9k a year at UCL only affords me an extensive reading list and the delights of Moodle).

However, as a student who’s benefited from numerous women-only recruitment schemes, I’d like to explain why they exist and why I’m an advocate for diversity hiring and development in industry.

So, let’s break this UCLove argument down into a few stages:

  1. Why Women?

Research shows that gender equity is great for business, improving companies’ innovation, group performance and financial performance. Do you know how much value advancing gender equality would add to global growth? (Spoiler: $12 trillion). Yet, women are still underrepresented in key areas of business and finance, especially at the higher levels.

At a university like UCL, where there is a lot of focus on getting women into industry, it can be hard to remember that this gender imbalance exists. We study hard and compete on a level playing field with our male counterparts. We sit the same tests, attend the same lectures…

However, the difference is still there.

Have a quick look at UCL’s 2017/18 departmental student numbers by gender. How does your course compare? Because, once you start looking at the facts, you can quickly see that several subjects have huge gender imbalance, especially more industry-facing degrees.

That’s because being a university-level female student interested in business isn’t the beginning of the story. The difference in subject study tends to start from a young age, where young women are frequently discouraged from certain fields such as STEM and finance by explicit and implicit biases. As the statistics reflect, this divide only continues further up the system. As women progress through higher education, they are underrepresented in numerous fields.

As many companies hire irrespective of degree background, women’s-only access events at university level offer a fresh opportunity to encourage female talent to join fields that they are underrepresented in.

2. Why Women’s Only Schemes?

So, there are not enough women in certain sectors. It would be highly beneficial if there was. What can we do to fix that?

Women’s only schemes are not a perfect solution; in fact, I’d argue that they are “completely unfair” because they shouldn’t even need to exist.

However, they become one of the most prominent ways of encouraging female candidates to enter fields in which they are commonly underrepresented. My personal attitude is that women’s only schemes should be seen as a catalyst or a “stop-gap” measure for encouraging women to enter certain industries, until societal attitudes towards women applying for and working in those spaces is balanced out.

But why do women’s only schemes specifically help young women as a target demographic? In a working world where women are less likely to apply for competitive jobs and more likely to experience impostor syndrome if they do, women’s only schemes offer an opportunity for access. By marketing certain schemes towards underrepresented groups, this gives those groups more confidence in their own ability for and suitability to the role.

Creating tailored events also gives rise to opportunity for additional, diversity-specific advice. Most of the women’s-only events that I’ve attended have included valuable advice on the realities of working in the industry as a woman, provided me with female mentors and most importantly, have reassured me that despite all odds, women can excel in fields that they are underrepresented in.

I would also encourage you to take this approach to other diversity schemes; whilst it’s amazing to see this support for young female professionals, this same logic applies to other access routes (eg low-income, BAME, LGBTQ+). It feels like a lot of diversity hiring is currently focused on gender, but I would love to see the growth and development of new diversity pathways. In every instance, this is about helping talented people excel in new areas and making futures accessible to all.

3. The Problem with Blind Hiring

The problem with blind hiring is that it does nothing to change the existing imbalances of the system. It assumes an existing, natural “fairness”: that all applicants have had the same opportunities and thus should be considered on the same playing field.

You may have seen this rather cliche fence equality cartoon. The principle is understandable: there is a difference in how able different groups are to achieve the same outcome. The problem with the logic of this cartoon is that it assumes we’re all up against the same obstacles that we need to overcome (i.e. the “fence”) but that some are less able to due to our personal limitations (i.e. our “height”). If you applied this “height” logic to women in work, for example, it would be assuming that women need more help because we are inherently less capable.

IISC_EqualityVsEquityCartoon

Interaction Institute for Social Change | Artist: Angus Maguire | interactioninstitute.org and madewithangus.com

 

Rather than this metaphor, I really like this graphic below by Paul Kuttner. This is a more accurate depiction of the inequalities of the hiring system in that there exists an “opportunity gap” for candidates from certain backgrounds. It’s not that we’re “short”, it’s that the “fence” is taller for some groups than it is for others. Thus, additional support helps women to challenge the existing system and achieve the same level of access which should exist in the first place.

equality equity

© Copyright 2015, Paul Kuttner, culturalorganising.org

 

In conclusion, if the system doesn’t change, the industry won’t change. 

If you hire from the normal quota of applications that you get, you’re doing nothing to support those who are facing an opportunity gap in the recruitment process. The only way to change this system is to get more diverse talent into senior roles – but we can’t wait forever for that to happen. Therefore, diversity schemes such as women’s only events are an effective measure in beginning to shift societal attitudes towards women in the workplace.

If you’d like to learn more, I’d really recommend reading Lean In by Facebook’s COO Sheryl Sandberg – it’s a great, well-articulated and interesting introduction to the inequalities women face in the workforce. Equally, please feel free drop any questions or comments below!

 

(Note to self: I can’t believe I just wrote an article off a UCLove post. This is surely some kind of new record of keen.)

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5 Ways to Max Out Your Uni Summer

The uni summer is a phenomenon like no other. After exam period, 3 to 4 months of unadulterated free time feels just like what the doctor ordered! However, the novelty of endless, commitment-free days does manage to wear off (believe it or not…).

If you’ve finished everything on Netflix, are short on cash and ideas, and are looking to get something more out of the summer… here are some ideas to get you started!

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1. Volunteer for a local charity or organisation. If you’re not sure where to start, there are lots of resources online. I’d recommend do-it.org, a huge database of over a million volunteering opportunities. You can search by your postcode to find local charities and organisations who are in need of your help. Even if you can only spare a couple of hours, any time that you can give is invaluable.

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2. Reflect on your year so far and make some goals for the next one. The summer break is a great opportunity to take a step out of your studies and think about your journey so far. What worked well this year? What challenges did you face, and what helped you to overcome them? Knowing what you know now, what things would you have done differently? Taking an active decision to check in with yourself and reflect on your past year will help you start off the new academic year one step ahead.

3. Wanting to build your professional presence? Make a LinkedIn profile. How’re you doing on those new year’s resolutions you set yourself? “But I don’t have anything to put on there!” “I don’t have a profile photo!” “I don’t get it!” I’ve heard those loads of times, but trust me, it’s so useful to have LinkedIn. If you’re unfamiliar with LinkedIn, think of it like a professional Facebook which lets you stay in contact with the people you’ve met. LinkedIn really has been one of my key tools in building my network and keeping in touch with people doing all sorts of awesome things! It’s much easier than constantly asking for email addresses and lets connections see what you’re up to. You can join here. 

4. Start a personal project. Ironically, I started this blog and online platform in my first term of second year, when I had less free time than ever. During the academic year, most of us think of interesting ideas or avenues we’d like to pursue if we had the opportunity to. The uni break is that opportunity – make the most of the luxury of time that you have now to get things started!

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5. Learn a new skill. With the wealth of resources online, learning a new skill or talent is more accessible than ever before. From YouTube to free MOOCS (Massive Open Online Courses) like FutureLearn, there are numerous resources available to suit your learning style. From coding and computer science to business and management, the opportunities are endless and often will only take a matter of hours to get involved with. For me, a personal goal of mine is to improve my mental maths, so I’ve started looking into free online courses that I can take to develop that!

Of course, these 5 tips are just some ideas of what possibilities lie ahead over the next few months; what you aim to do over the summer will depend entirely on your personal goals. After a stressful academic year, for some, taking a couple of months off to relax is perfect just as it is.

Wishing you all the best with enjoying summer 2018!

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5 Secrets Every Spring Intern Knows

This past month has been full of challenges (not least, finishing a mountain of Easter chocolate!). However, one of my standout memories of April 2018 will always be completing my two Spring Weeks.

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If you’re not familiar with the process, “Spring Weeks” are multiple-day insight programmes ran during the Easter period. They offer a first look into an industry and are often the first step on the undergrad careers ladder.

I was fortunate enough to gain places on two excellent programmes: PwC Women in Business (Strategy Consulting) and the Barclays Spring Analyst Scheme (Front Office/Corporate Banking). I’d applied during my first term of this academic year, which felt like a lifetime ago, so when April finally came around it was time to get started.

Whilst I was thrilled to be involved, I have to highlight that the Spring Week application process is competitive, time-consuming and often industry/background specific. Not everyone wants – or is able to – participate in these kinds of programmes. Bearing this in mind, I thought I’d share my key observations reflecting on the past few weeks.

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So, without further ado, these were my 5 key takeaways from my spring insight weeks:

1. Everyone is at completely different points in their career decisions at this point in time. Despite all being peers at university, some undergrads I met had been dedicated to getting into that sector for years, whilst for others, they’d applied on an impulse and this was their very first introduction. There is no right or wrong to this! There’s a common misconception that everyone on insight/internship schemes has decided for certain that this will be their future career, putting even more pressure on students to pick career paths earlier and earlier in their degrees. If you have an interest in a sector, go ahead and apply. You have nothing to lose.

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2. Balancing Spring Weeks and academic work is a real challenge. If you have an interest in a specific industry, I would really recommend applying for a Spring Week in that sector. However, do bear in mind your academic workload. I met some students who were attending 3-4 programmes over the break – this is amazing experience if you can handle it (and be offered it!), but be careful to give yourself enough time to do your work and relax. There’s also a lot to be said for working hard over the Easter break and focusing on your academics!

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3. Interviews for summer internships in the next year are often included as part of the programme structure. This threw me at first (summer 2019 is still a long, long time away in my eyes..!). However, if you do decide that this is something you’d be interested in doing, be aware that Spring Weeks are one of the most straightforward ways to being fast tracked onto a summer internship.

4. Networking amongst like-minded peers is just as important as making connections at any company. I met some truly amazing people during my Spring Weeks at every level of the respective organisations. I was so grateful for being made very welcome in both firms, and by how everyone I met was so receptive to my questions. Yet, what surprised me most was how much I learned from talking to other students. These kind of events and programmes are a great opportunity to meet bright peers from around the UK (and abroad!) with a huge diversity of backgrounds and experiences. There is so much emphasis on how to network with “senior” or “important” individuals in life, but I have often found that my peer network is my biggest source of inspiration.

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5. You really don’t know what to expect til you get there, and that’s part of the challenge! Despite a lot of Googling and rereading my starting info about 15 times, the exact content of my Spring Weeks was pretty much a mystery until I walked through the doors on my first day. There is so much variation between programmes and content that it is almost impossible to predict! I had some ideas of what to expect, but I never would have imagined that soon I would be getting hands on with complex data analysis, learning to code and debating the future of AI. This uncertainty taught me to trust in myself to handle new and unfamiliar situations. I also enjoyed both insights immensely and they far exceeded my expectations!

So, overall, it’s been a fantastic month and I’ve learned a lot. If you have any questions about any of the programmes, feel free to reach out via this blog or LinkedIn.

As for me, it’s time to get started on the three essays I need to write in a week (turns out, I was definitely not joking about #2).

Have a great Easter break and good luck for exam season!

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