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Top 5 Lessons Learned on the Graduate Scheme

Book open Reading time: 6 mins

Kainat Tariq discusses top 5 lessons that she learned which are helpful to those looking for graduate schemes or wanting to join the Capgemini Team.

My name is Kainat Tariq, I’m currently on the Salesforce Graduate Scheme at Capgemini (September 2019 start). The first time I heard about Capgemini was at a national competition held in Manchester. To participate in the competition, students were asked to work in teams to develop innovative technologies to improve the spectator experience at the Olympics. The event was sponsored by tech companies to encourage students to consider tech careers and out of the box thinking.

My team and I had just finished pitching our idea to the judges, and then I went out of my way to network with the employers there. Most employers were similar in their approach, all trying to promote the graduate schemes to the students, talking about what they could offer and why we should apply.

Capgemini stood out for me because of how simple their appeal was, they didn’t need a flashy stand or cool merchandise to get their company culture across. It was just two current graduates talking to students about their own experience within the graduate community at Capgemini. They were interested about my team’s idea from the competition and wanted to find out more about me. I wasn’t just another potential applicant, they treated me as an individual. I really liked that! Long story short, I made connections in Capgemini through networking at the various events across my time at university. I applied to the graduate scheme in November 2018 and in July 2019 I passed the assessment centre with flying colours – I’ve been on the graduate scheme for 7 months now.

My time at Capgemini has flown by and I’ve had such a positive experience. For anybody considering applying to a similar graduate scheme, here are the 5 main lessons I’ve learned from my experience that might be helpful to those looking to start a graduate career.

If you don’t have certain skills to do your job, that’s fine! There’s world-class training to help you learn

On my induction week, I recall a senior member of staff saying that Capgemini invest a lot of money into their employees because they don’t have a product or technology to sell. It sounds weird but essentially, they sell people and their skills. If their people lack skills and expertise, then clients would go elsewhere. I now know that’s true! Since I joined, I’ve been able to attend lots of week-long training courses. These were designed to help me learn about Salesforce, how to collaborate with clients and how to become a compelling consultant.

Capgemini’s big focus on training makes it easy to transition from university into the consulting world, starting from the induction. A few months into the scheme, you are given a reviewer.  A reviewer is someone senior to you who is not only there to provide you with support but also to check that you’re on track with your objectives. Your reviewer typically has monthly meetings with you or sometimes weekly, depending on the support you need. Jack Harrison, who is a Salesforce Technology Consultant and my reviewer, encourages me to find areas where I think I could improve my skills and then supports me in doing so. For example, I recently spoke to him about wanting to learn more about the agile methodology, he suggested signing up to a course in Telford which was for 2 days. Now these courses aren’t cheap but to Capgemini it’s a worthwhile investment. Out of all the companies I’ve worked for previously, only few of them held this mentality. Most of the time, if you want to learn a new skill in a new area, and you can justify the business benefits, then Capgemini will back you up.

It’s not the end of the world if you make mistakes or fail

I’ve always been fascinated by technology which is why I wanted to join Capgemini; I knew I would be working with cutting-edge technology and be surrounded by innovation. When I joined Capgemini, I had no prior experience of the Salesforce technology, so I learnt it from scratch. I didn’t feel overwhelmed learning the new technology because Salesforce has a practice environment that allows you to play around with the technology, there are lots of online resources available, and experts at Capgemini who I could ask questions and learn from. As part of the graduate scheme, I am encouraged to become a Certified Salesforce Administrator. To help me and my fellow graduates prepare for the exam, Capgemini sent us on a Salesforce Admin Bootcamp where we able to learn about Salesforce.

Once I was confident, I booked my exam. However, I didn’t pass In fact I passed on my third attempt. Failing the exam a few times has taught me a lot! It was a humbling experience, one that made me more resilient. It felt amazing to achieve something I worked so hard for. I often tell people about my failures because we often forget that failures help define our character and teach us more than success ever will. In the process of trying to pass, the Capgemini team were super supportive. My colleagues would often set up meetings with me to help me understand something or test my knowledge. That support was so vital for me and I’m grateful to be part of such an amazing support network.

You’re not alone, you’ve got a huge community to back you up

My first project at Capgemini was a Salesforce project, doing testing, making the user manual and helping the team create some components. A lot of the time, things went how I expected them to go, but sometimes they didn’t! You will have times where you mess up or times where one of your colleagues mess up. When that does happen, just remember that you have support and you’re part of a team, a Capgemini team. I remember a Capgemini colleague telling me that “Capgemini people stick together” – that we look out for each other and we have each other’s back no matter what. Those 4 words have stuck with me and I know there’s a team to back me up if I need it. There is a huge Capgemini family that you will be part of. You will have lots for opportunities to build a network and those connections will come handy one day.

Be bold and voice your opinions, they matter!

Although Capgemini does have a very big hierarchy, it doesn’t feel as if there is a hierarchy at all. The people I’ve came across at Capgemini love to listen to new ideas (even if they seem ridiculous) or help in any way they can. Obviously, some people are extremely busy, but I’ve found that everyone is willing to make time to listen, despite their experience or job role within the company. Recently, I came up with a new idea to improve the Salesforce department, so I reached out to the head of the Salesforce department in the UK. He took time to listen to my idea and was fully on board, he suggested getting a team together to implement my idea and has been super supportive. For any new graduates, my advice would be to be brave, share your ideas and ask lots of question, even if you think you sound silly – Leave a mark for people to remember you by.

Give back to the community because it feels good

Alongside my project work, I’ve taken time off to give back to the community. I’ve gone back to my university for a workshop where I delivered a presentation about my experience. I was able to offer students helpful tips on getting a job in tech. After this workshop, I wanted to do more for my community. I connected with a few people at Capgemini and identified that not enough activities were taking place to attract more Information Technology Management for Business (ITMB) students into Capgemini. We then developed a plan of activities that would help to attract ITMB students into Capgemini. This includes hosting events, CV writing workshops, guru lectures and so on – I will be involved in all these things. When it comes to initiatives like these, Capgemini are ready to get involved and at all levels. My advice would be to seek opportunities to give back as you will feel good, build your connections and learn something new outside of your role.

Those are my top 5 lessons that I’ve learned in such a short amount of time. I hope it’s helpful to those looking for graduate schemes or wanting to join the Capgemini Team.