We catch up with Olivia who tells us about securing a role with LDN Apprenticeships, how she built her commercial awareness before the interview and her top three tips for Bright Network members looking to follow in her footsteps.
Why a role with LDN Apprenticeships?
Job searching as a recent graduate is daunting enough as it is but doing it in the midst of a pandemic brought even more challenges that no one could ever prepare for. I was anxious at not being able to secure anything, so I was prepared to go for anything. LDN Apprenticeships appealed to me because they were open to all the candidates who did not have experience. All they cared about was something they term EEWAP - Energy, Enthusiasm, Willingness to learn, Ability to take feedback and Propensity for Action. So many young people are out there that would make a great employee, but because of life circumstances, they were not able to secure an internship or attend lectures or online study. I found university quite challenging, although I enjoyed every minute of it, I wasn’t able to balance my university work with applying for summer internships and doing things to add to my CV. LDN Apprenticeships gave a chance to people like me and judged us on our character, not our list of achievements.
As coronavirus began whilst I was in my final term of third year, I had to complete my university degree at home. This felt underwhelming and I never really managed to close that chapter of my life. An apprenticeship offered me the chance to nourish my thirst for learning whilst also being in paid employment.
How did you build your commercial awareness before the interview?
Research, research, research. Looking at the company, both LDN Apprenticeships and the firm I applied for, Pracedo. Memorising their company values and finding a way to sneak them in during the interview process, to not only prove you’ve done your homework but also show them you’re a good fit for the company and their culture. I read the company blog and looked for events they had attended or articles they had written and created a list of points I wanted to ask them about. However, I wasn’t afraid to deviate from this list if something particularly interesting arose through conversation.
How did Bright Network help you secure this role?
When joining Bright Network I registered an interest in tech-based jobs. As an English graduate, I thought aiming for this sort of employment was wishful thinking as it’s a very competitive industry and my degree didn’t directly connect. The position was listed on an email sent out by Bright Network about opportunities I may be interested in, so if I wasn’t registered on Bright Network I would have never found this job. Bright Network also provided lots of interesting guest speakers and courses to help secure a job and provide crucial bits of experience to reference in an interview.
What top three tips would you give Bright Network members looking to follow in your footsteps?
Be clear about what sectors you want to work in, even if you don’t think you have a chance - aim high! We’re in an information-overload culture where we’re confronted with text and data constantly. This means we’re likely to just skim our emails because we receive so many of them. This is your future, so it’s worth taking the extra time to sort out your inbox in case you miss out something exciting.
Don’t be afraid to try new things and don’t judge a book by its cover - Salesforce was something I had never heard of before and couldn’t envision myself doing. However, I took a chance, and it’s safe to say that I’ve been really pleasantly surprised and love my job!
What’s been the toughest interview question you’ve faced?
I always find “Name a challenge you’ve faced and how you overcame it” a difficult question because I’ve been fortunate with my upbringing and have never really faced any ‘real’ challenges. However, I realised that although my challenges might be minor compared to some, they may have been difficult for me at that time; everything is relative. Interviewers listen to so many candidates for a job and I think they appreciate seeing the human behind the interviewee. The ability to be honest and admitting struggles whilst showing problem-solving skills really sets you apart from others.
However, my toughest question was asked by my interviewer who was also the CEO of the company: “Approximately how many tennis balls do you think there are inside London?” Safe to say, this was not on my prepared list. He was testing to see how easily we lose composure when thrown something unexpected, which is a key skill consultants need to have.