The early bird catches the flight to Barcelona
At 6.15 in the morning on the 7th October, along with some of my other O2 colleagues, I took a flight to Barcelona. We were heading to the Telefónica Universitas campus in the outskirts of Barcelona. The whole Early Careers 2017 cohort were spending the week at the Universitas, to mark the end of our time on the Early Careers programme and offboarding from our graduate programmes and apprenticeships. The week would also help to set us up for the rest of our careers, by giving us the opportunity to take part in a series of activities that developed us personally and professionally. The week was also anchored around a theme, which this year was ‘The Greatest Show’, taking inspiration from ‘The Greatest Showman’, the 2017 film about the circus showman P.T Barnum. The themes in the films story provided motivation for the week, including; actively seeking feedback, being self-aware, pursuing your goals, and celebrating diversity and the power of people.
After arriving at the Universitas campus, we then had some down time to get settled in and prepare for the week. In the evening, the whole cohort gathered for the evening meal, and it was great to see everyone, especially the grads and apprentices that are not Slough based. To finish the evening, we all watched the ‘The Greatest Showman’, to start familiarising ourselves with the ideas presented in the film. The second day of the offboarding week focussed around the theme of ‘self-awareness’ and understanding what your own strengths and areas for further improvement are. An exercise that helped to highlight these areas was the 360 feedback that everyone in the cohort had been asked to collect from their peers and managers. This was an interesting activity, because it gave me an insight into the perceptions of me that my colleagues have. Another activity that we did during this day was plotting our graduate programme journeys onto a graph, to show the high points and low points we had individually experienced. This created an opportunity for reflection on the whole two years I have spent on the graduate programme and gave me an appreciation of just how much I have experienced and developed throughout it.
Day three of the offboarding week focussed on the theme of goals and aspirations. One of the activities we did during this day was practicing a technique to help us realise and visualise our goals. The exercise involved standing in an open space with a partner, who was helping guide you through the activity. The activity started with facing your partner, and your partner would ask you a series time-oriented questions related to your goal. An example of this is ‘it’s the day after you have achieved your goal, how are you feeling?’ and you would take a step forward and your partner would move with you. The same worked if they were taking you back in time and you would physically take a step back. This activity of stepping through time and the different stages of achieving your goal was useful, because it helped me to put my goals into perspective and got me into the mindset of working towards them. It required thoughts about how you are preparing, what you would be doing and how you are feeling at different points. The cohort was also fortunate to be joined by Reggie Nelson, a young person that shared his very inspiring story with us, of making opportunities for himself and taking control of his dreams. This was an uplifting note to leave my own personal offboarding week on. Whilst the rest of my cohort continued with their activities and getting ready to celebrate graduation at the end of the week; I travelled back to the UK.
I made my way back to attend the Institute of Telecommunications Professionals 2019 awards, where I was shortlisted for an award. The O2 showing at the ceremony was good, and it was great to be able to celebrate O2 success with lots of my colleagues. At the awards, I was lucky enough to pick up the first ever Graduate of the Year award, for a paper that I had submitted. My paper centred around automation in telecommunications engineering. It feels amazing to be recognised for my work, and has made me determined to use the award to keeping encouraging more women into STEM careers, specifically engineering. It was an awesome week and I feel grateful to have had access to such brilliant opportunities through the O2 Early Careers scheme.