This week 74 students from Reading College visited the Microsoft UK Campus as part of the Microsoft ‘Get On’ Initiative. Get On is a ‘Stretch Project’ run by interns in an attempt to get young people inspired, get skilled and get a job. The Get On team help to run events which aim to develop the skills of young people and realise their potential. The group help young people with their personal professional development whilst having fun!
This week’s Get On event, hosted by five Microsoft Interns (Abby Wright, Cara Brooks, Ed Large, Laura Born Navarro and Megan Watkins) gave a large group of students studying IT the opportunity to develop their interests and understanding of the industry. All of the students present at the event were undertaking Level 2 or 3 IT BTEC’s at Reading College.
At the event students had the opportunity to hear about career opportunities for young people in the industry. Interns, Apprentices, past Apprentices and Partner Apprentices from Microsoft presented on their experiences. They spoke about how important it is to gain work experience. After the session one student shared “I am still not sure whether or not I will go into an Apprenticeship or go on to study at University, but I will make sure that if I do a degree I take a year in industry. Today has really shown me the importance of gaining relevant work experience.”
The interns and Apprentices presenting at the event all work within different Departments at Microsoft. They were able to discuss job roles from HR to Marketing, along with more technical careers. One student said it was "nice to hear that I can work in the technology industry, without having to have a purely technical role." Nick Walker, a teacher from Reading College was “extremely heartened by the young interns and apprentices’ professional journeys and achievements. Our students were really encouraged and inspired to take action as a result of the whole experience.”
Microsoft’s HR staffing team also presented a session on recruitment. They were able to share career and CV tips to help the students prepare themselves for the employment market. Cara Brooks, one of the interns running the event said “When I was at school I only really knew about following a career path from University. I feel passionate about making students aware of the numerous options available to them.”
On the day students had the opportunity to take part in coding activities. Some students had "never had the opportunity to code." The students worked in small groups to develop their own apps. Touch Develop and Dream Spark were used to create the apps. Students considered the market they were entering, their audience and funding. At the end of the session students pitched back to their peers about their ideas. The groups proposed which platforms they would use, discussing the importance of their app being available on platforms from Windows Phone to Samsung, Android to Xbox.
One group of students created a ‘Space Cow Madness’ app. A world where cows had to eat different objects. The app enabled players to personalise the appearance of their cows, adding different skin colours and accessories like sunglasses and Christmas hats. The team had planned merchandise they could release alongside their app, such as pillows. They also discussed advertising campaigns to grow their market share, they spoke about the use of flyers. Karn Hargun, one of the students from Reading College found the session really interesting “I learnt how simple it is to make an app which could possibly make me millions!”
Another team planned to develop a group of apps to help people improve reactions. They created their first app for this collection, ‘Tap Man’ to help people wake up in the mornings. The app featured lots of different colours to help make people more alert. The team were keen to make their range of apps stimulate the user’s brains. They discussed further apps to help people read quickly. The team discussed their marketing campaign, they wished to gain sponsorship through a decaffeinated coffee company as they believed this audience would be full of people who seek energy through other means. This team were able to demonstrate that even within a coding career you need to be able to bring other attributes into a role such as marketing. The activity enabled the students to develop their entrepreneurial skills.
The day received a great amount of positive feedback and provided the students with a great opportunity to begin thinking about their futures. One student thought it was "great to come into the Microsoft office as I would like to work in technology.” Nick Walker from Reading College rounded off the day’s events by saying “We are grateful to Microsoft for offering these invaluable opportunities for our learners to engage with professionals, in a real-life working environment. This experience provides learners with real insight and enhances their learning journey.”