Welcome to the first edition of the 2017 Projects Practice Graduate Blog. My name is Alex and I’ll be the first of eight to be updating everyone on the graduate scheme and what we’ve been getting up to over the coming months.
To first give a background of myself; I graduated from the University of Exeter back in 2016 having studied a bachelors in Mining Engineering – yes mining, nothing at all to do with computers! Having completed my degree, my first proper job was as a graduate civil engineer working in Cornwall before switching tact entirely and opting for a career in project management. So, not your usual route into IT! I must say however, having worked in a different industry and in the public sector gives to some very useful perspective!
Civil engineering is a very busy and prosperous industry within the UK and a fantastic thing to get into. However, as with many industries, the higher up you go, the less technical you become and the more people management begins to dominate your day-to-day working life. So if the end goal was to be a project manager, why not start now? And why not dip my toes into a different industry while I’m at it? Well here I am!
What is becoming increasingly apparent to me, is the wealth of tools and support that Computacenter makes available in order for you to reach your potential. Having briefly worked in the public sector, I was in a much more stagnant environment operating on a very much ‘dead man’s shoes’ principal. Now, maybe that was because I was working in Cornwall and I must say the pace of life is a lot more laid back there, but it’s certainly not what a lot of young people want in their early careers and this inevitably added to the reasons why I decided to move.
In our brief 9 weeks with Computacenter, the grads have had dinner with the Group Professional Services Director- Andy Moffitt, we’ve met the Head of Projects Practice- Zameer Kaderkutty and the Head of Consultancy- Martin Provoost to name but a few. All these hugely important and influential people in the company and they are able to spare the time to meet us and welcome us. I am overwhelmingly impressed; the only time I ever spoke to and shook the hand of the office manager in my previous job was to say “Cheerio, I’m leaving for London!” That was after six months in the job which you’d think is enough time to rub shoulders with your office manager; it wasn’t even a big office! What I’m trying to say is that I did not expect such important people to be concerned with or interested in graduates because my previous superiors certainly weren’t! I’m delighted to have been proved wrong in this assumption.
Aside from socialising with ‘big wigs’ of the Computacenter society, we have started our rotations where we delve into some of the core divisions of Computacenter. We have spent two weeks with the Central Projects Office which appears to be a very successful and rapidly growing section of Computacenter. It’s probably easier for me to tell you what they don’t do rather than what they actually do as it seems to me as nearly everything. This epiphany led to the development of our new graduate strategy going forward: “If you don’t know where to go, contact CPO!”
After the Central Projects Office, we spent a week with scheduling followed by a week with BECS. Scheduling provided a very useful insight and it’s great to know where all those iRequests that project coordinators raise actually go! The following week with BECS provided us with a grounding in the pre-sales process and all the work required to win a bid. We were also given a task of developing a background study and a tailored sales campaign for several potential clients entering the market in the future. So who knows? Our background studies may contribute in some small way to a few future bids!
That brings us nearly up to the present. I just want to reiterate how impressed I am with CC- and how well I’ve been received into the company. The guys on Glassdoor weren’t kidding about the level of praise the company deserves! Thank you for taking the time to read my blog, I’ve added a photo of us all on our first day, all trying to look as professional as possible! From the left: Tom D, myself, James, Issie, Laura, Rollie, Tom W and Nick (who seems to have lost interest in looking at the camera!).
The next entry will be by Laura Springall in the upcoming weeks.
It looks like I’m last up to write the final projects practice gradate blog. Best to last I guess! Thank you to all my graduate colleagues for their previous blogs and hearing how we have all progressed and settled into the company so well. This is my first EVER blog because I don’t really do writing, I’m a talker. However before I begin here is a little about me: I studied Information Technology Management for Business at the University of Hertfordshire and graduated last year with a First Class honours. I have 3 family businesses and I like food. Anyone who wants to win me over, food is your answer! I used to Box and reached a National level, however food took over my life. After 12 months at O2 as UK audio manager and my final academic year at University, I find myself within a growing company with endless opportunities, CC.
So believe it or not, it’s been a year since we started. I think it’s fair to say, it has not felt like it. It means another 8 months of the Graduate programme remain before we “graduate”. It’s crazy thinking this time last year I was at University doing what most University students do. I’ll leave that to your imagination but I was studying!
So before I get carried away, it’s right to begin by saying a huge thank you to everyone who has sponsored and supported the programme and a farewell to Martin Jones who without, the projects grads would not be here. Furthermore a huge welcome to Zameer Kaderkutty (Zam) and the new 2017 intake of Projects Practice graduates. I wish you all the best within CC.
So this week I had the opportunity to meet the new intake of grads and ease them into the world of CC. However it was odd knowing this time last year, I was sat there all ‘suited and booted’ thinking I don’t understand any of these acronyms. And there I was bellowing, “GIO, TRG, ISP” and so on… it’s now just second nature. The best advice I suggested was that it takes time to understand a complex organisation and how everything amalgamates therefore if it takes time to grasp, it really does not matter. Everyone in CC is welcoming and is willing to help so never be shy to ask questions or for any support/advice.
As my colleagues have previously mentioned, “Rotations” are up and we are now knee deep into project work. Customer sites, the travelling, the underground and dealing with customers is all part of the job and I am relishing every moment of it. I have learnt tremendous amounts by working on fluctuating accounts and projects which vary in size, risk and category but one key aspect I’ve learnt is that projects do not always go to plan but the transparency and commitment we deliver to keep customers as happy as possible is second to none. This is one of many reasons why I love working for Computacenter.
Other than my day to day job, I have been fortunate enough to be a Brand ambassador for the University of Hertfordshire. Attending many careers fairs has been a wonderful experience and there is nothing better to share how successful the programme and company has been especially to students my age. This has recently been certified as Computacenter has been ranked in the Top 100 Graduate Employers for second year running. This is a huge achievement!!!
For me there has been so many memories throughout the first 12 months but the one which comes to mind first is the Practice Wide Meeting held on the 5th May in Leicester. It was an insightful day hearing presentations from Chris Webb, Andy Moffitt and Martin Jones around key aspects of the company and how current and future progress looks. Other than being forced to dance to Mamma Mia in the competition in which Hatfield came third so well done all who participated (clearly thanks to my dance moves), it was a lovely evening to network and enjoy ‘down time’ with colleagues you spend a lot of time with day to day in a “working” environment. However, there was nothing better than seeing Martin Jones and all my colleagues on the dance door “attempting” Bhangra to Punjabi MC. I will leave it on that note.
Thank you for reading my first ever blog. It has been an amazing 12 months at the start of my career and I look forward to all the opportunities and challenges my role brings. It’s now onto the completion of the programme and hopefully promotion. For now, it’s been a pleasure!
Oh and here is me in fighting action (I’m in the black vest):
Hello everyone. I’m Meg Roberts and welcome to the third instalment of the Project Management Graduate Blog. This instalment was due to be written by Angela Vane, however she has found another role within Computacenter and we all wish her the best of luck!
The last blog was brought to you by Oliver Lamont when we were nearing the end of our rotations. We have now finished them, and we are Project Co-ordinators! It is scary how quickly the time has gone, but now we are in the role we can see how priceless the connections we made during our rotations really are.
I know the assessment centres are coming up for next year’s project management graduates so I thought I’d take the time to give you a few hints and tips about what the day has in store.
There are two group exercises in the morning, both of these aren’t really to catch you out. It’s important within this role to work well as a team and show that you are able to listen to the ideas and opinions of others. However, it is key you can articulate your own ideas and push for them if you really believe your idea is the best to achieve the end goal.
On my assessment day, the other candidates and I really helped each other and this made us all calmer and I believe improved our chances. When Computacenter tell you these days aren’t a competition, they’re right – the company are only looking for the best candidates for the role. You aren’t in direct competition for a set amount of roles; so work together!
Also there will be a one-on-one interview. This is to get to know you better and to learn how you have dealt with situations in the past. Single interviews will always be nerve-racking but remember you aren’t on a time limit so if you need to pause, do so! One of my best feedback comments from the day was that I personalised my answers with examples not only from previous employment but also day-to-day situations with friends and family. Don’t be afraid to be yourself. Project management is all about people skills, therefore demonstrate that you have them. While some candidates are being interviewed, the rest of the group will have the time to ask current and previous graduates, and experienced Project Managers, questions. This isn’t scored, or put against your chances of being offered the role. So use the time to ask the real questions!
Finally, you will have your presentation. The best piece of advice I can offer you is to choose a topic you feel comfortable with and know like the back of your hand. It will make you feel more relaxed, and more prepared to answer any questions. Preparation is key for this part of the day so use your time wisely, and practice. The questions aren’t designed to catch you out – they are just to see how prepared you are, and if you know about the topic you’re presenting.
It seems like a lifetime ago since we had our own assessment days, as time goes so quickly. Overall just thoroughly prepare for the day, and try to enjoy it as weird as that sounds! Oliver and Shivani were both on my assessment day, so remember you never know who is going to be offered the role so ensure you work together.
Good luck to you all!
Thank you for taking the time to read my blog, I have really enjoyed my time at Computacenter so far and I know this is a company has many opportunities for us all. I look forward to what the future brings with Computacenter! The next instalment of the Project Management Graduate Blog will be bought to you by Shivani Mistry.