Careers Fair 2017: a Student's Perspective - Sophie Preece

Sophie Preece

Sophie Preece talks about her experience at this year's Pearson Business School Careers Festival. Discover a student's perspective of the week-long event, exclusive to students at Pearson Business School, aimed at developing their careers and providing unbeatable industry engagement. 

Monday - Charlie Taylor CEO and Founder of DEBUT (a graduate careers app to make the processes simpler and easier)

One of the many afternoon sessions available at the PCL Careers Festival was a talk given by Charlie Taylor, CEO and Founder of Debut.

Debut is the world’s first student and graduate careers app. So why is it so revolutionary? Talent spotting: it reverses the recruitment flow where the employer approaches students. There are interactive elements in the form of employer-sponsored games which can boost the students profile with a variety of prizes are up for grabs. This app has been developed specifically to disrupt the graduate job market and shift the balance of power back to the student. Setting up the profile is easy, so students can quickly access exclusive content that they can share with others. The app includes gaining inside knowledge of companies, hints and tips as well as interview guides and competitions.

Since I am currently going through the job application process and seen how time consuming and repetitive it is, Debut offers a new and fresh way of approaching the mammoth job search. I’m looking forward to using it and seeing what happens. Why don’t you download it now as well and give it a go!

Tuesday - Speed networking/ Levi Roots/ Practice Speed Networking

Tuesday was another packed day of activities and talks. A highlight was meeting Levi Roots, a British-Jamaican reggae musician, television personality, celebrity chef and businessman, famous for his Reggae Reggae Sauce. He spoke about his journey up to now, including some of the key challenges he has faced. What stood out to me was his honesty and talking through the more difficult phases as his business and brand grew. He has recently opened his first restaurant, Caribbean Smokehouse, in Westfield’s.

Earlier in the day, students also had the chance to brush up on their
networking abilities and put this into practice with guests from Hunterlodge, Champollion and Pearson. We developed our ability to start conversations in open and closed groups, as well as move between groups. This proved challenging but it was great to practice and I enjoyed meeting students from other years on different courses. The most difficult part of the activity was coming up with an elevator pitch about ourselves and sharing that with the others in the group. This is definitely something worth having for future events!

Wednesday - Career Panels (Investment Banking/ Legal/ Start-ups)

I attended the start-up panel on the Wednesday with fellow student Paloma Shakouri from Birdcage Gin and a guest from PSV HR, a platform that enables smaller medium enterprises to improve their HR services. It was great to hear from businesses in the early stages of growth, providing advice for students thinking about starting their own business. My favourite advice during the event was to “…get the right people around you, who are talented and you trust” as well as “…starting your own company is not for everyone and you need to be 100% committed!”. 

Level 5 and 6 Residential - Horwood House

Thursday 2nd and Friday 3rd February - Intro/ Shell Challenge/ Formal Dinner

Shell Challenge with Carol Rene

How can we transform the Shell customer loyalty programme? This was the brief we were set, where we had two hours to create a 2 page document outlining our idea, as well as putting together a 3 min presentation of our solution to deliver to a panel of judges. There were a diverse range of ideas and all the groups performed amazingly in being able to suggest great proposals on how Shell could further improve and transform their customer loyalty schemes. The winning team were announced at the formal dinner in the evening.

Friday 3rd February

Friday was a really useful day as we covered sessions from academic expectations to mock assessments to interviews with members of staff. With only a few months left before I enter the graduate jobs market, this day was designed for us to see how we can make the most of our time left and help us prepare for applying to graduate jobs - A scary but exciting prospect! Our guest speaker, Hayley Hewett, alumni of PCL, wrapped up the event. She is currently working with Sainsbury’s on their graduate programme. Hayley shed some light on what it’s like to be on a graduate scheme and the journey she took to get there. She shared some useful tips, with
3 key things that she has learnt over the whole process: 

  • Some bosses are rubbish
  • You are a teeny tiny fish in a big pond
  • Your people skills are vital!

So in summary...

The PBS Careers Festival was a great introduction to the final term of the year and for some of us – our last few weeks at university! - Where has the time gone?!

We’ve had guests from a variety of companies including JPMorgan, Pearson, Birdcage Gin and a special appearance from Levi Roots. Sadly he didn’t share his reggae reggae sauce with us, instead he shared his journey of starting his business – including the effect Dragon’s Den had on its development. We also had the chance to practice our networking and interview skills with employees from external companies (as well as tutors) and complete
a challenge for Shell on how to transform their customer loyalty programme.

For me, the highlights of the Careers Festival was the Shell Challenge and talk from Levi Roots. The Shell Challenge was a little different but we were able to apply what we’ve been learning on our courses and directly see how it is useful
in real life situations.

Finally, a key learning point that I have taken away from this week is to keep making the most of the opportunities that Pearson Business School offers. As third year students graduate this summer, utilising the links that Pearson Business School has with industries and the knowledge of our tutors and lecturers will help us to pursue our graduate application process with confidence and look forward to starting our careers.