The Reading University Business Society held a panel, “Tech Insight Night”, on the 22nd November 2017. The session brought together students and professionals from the IT industry to discuss the possibilities and opportunities that the new digital sphere has for new graduates. Here are my key takeaways from the evening.
Who were the speakers?
Simon Grosse, who is CEO and Co-founder of Foundation SP, based in the Reading Enterprise Centre on Whiteknights campus. Simon comes from a self-built background, making his way up the corporate ladder without a degree and with his gut instinct helping him along.
Justin Gupta, Head of Broadcasting and Entertainment for the UK and Ireland at Google, who is a Henley Business School MBA alumnus, and has earned a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science from the University of Reading prior to that. Despite having a technical background, Justin found he enjoyed his business and people-facing roles more than being behind a desk coding.
Chris Atkinson, former Microsoft Vice President and Executive Leadership coach. After having a successful career at Microsoft, Chris now delivers his knowledge to companies to guide them on the right path to leadership.
Thomas Hagerman, Senior Account Executive, SAP SuccessFactors HR Solution. Tom started his career in sales, continuing his way through HR consultancy, before engaging in an active career in technical software sales.
A piece of advice?
The panel consisted of people from all different walks of life, different experiences and backgrounds but they all seemed to have one thing in common – a passion for their jobs.
There are quite a few takeaways from that evening which might help anyone, graduate or not, looking for a job in any industry. I decided to share the ones which struck me:
Flexibility is an essential skill that will help you advance through your career. It does not mean that you should over-work yourself to the point that you do not see the light of day or the end of the week. Being flexible and adaptable is more about grabbing every opportunity thrown in your direction and “making your own luck”, as Justin said about how he made it to Google.
- Be yourself
Be proactive in voicing what your values and beliefs are during interviews. Both Simon and Chris mentioned how crucial it was to understand what your values are and to play to your strengths. Try to read up on the core values of the companies you are applying for. You will be more successful if you find a job which you enjoy and which represents you as a person. It is like the saying goes: “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.”
- Network, network, network
“You will never have as much free time as you do now. Use it wisely to learn how to build your network.” You need to be able to understand, interact and influence people and businesses. Use LinkedIn to connect with professionals in the industries you are interested in through genuine personalised messages.
- Work towards a goal
No one is expected to finish university with a 20-year career plan ready to be executed. You should not be afraid of making mistakes. All the speakers suggested setting long-term goals, striving for accomplishments and working towards the idea of success. Be sure to integrate your personal life into your plans and do not be afraid to change your plans along the way.