Jess Robinson (South 2018), who is in her third year as a Mechanical Engineer at the University of Nottingham, talks about how the OC Network helped her find an internship that was right up her street.
One of the impacts of the pandemic was that the job market became increasingly restricted. Often the last thing on employers’ minds was graduate recruitment, let alone internships. I never expected the value of networking to prove so important.
I went to the Old Cranleighan site to see what was on offer and came across a host of information. Firstly was the ability to contact a number of OCs who had volunteered to mentor/advise. I was able to trim these down to people in the field of study I was working towards. These people offered themselves as mentors and potentially even a path to getting some work experience.
A hero in my initial application journey was Tim Phelps (East 1978), Business Development Director at Atkins Technology. I reached out to Tim through the Network at the beginning of my second year, just to get experience. We would catch up regularly to discuss each stage of an application process. He introduced me to the beauties of networking and reaching out to professionals and how to set myself out from the crowd as well as putting me in touch with people in his world who could help me.
A great example of this was there came a time where I would get to my first in-person interview and Tim connected me to a friend of his who was a professional headhunter. The headhunter talked me through the mindset of an interviewer and how to present myself. Tim also came up with the suggestion of my returning to the Cranleigh Network to see what was out there beyond the larger companies.
I emailed in and had a phone call with Vickie Ingle in Christmas 2020 and she put me in touch with Cecile Searle (West 1995) chief operating officer at Magway. Magway is a start-up based in Wembley with a game-changing concept to revolutionise the logistics industry, supplying consumers with deliveries in a matter of hours using an underground network of electromagnetic powered tracks and carriages. The initiative will take tens of thousands of delivery trucks off the road to ease congestion and help the UK reach a target of net zero emissions by 2050.
Conversations with professionals like Cecile and Tim at first seemed quite intimidating – they were people taking time out of their day to chat to a student – but what was unexpected with Cecile was how quickly our interview turned into a fun and interesting chat. Not just being women but also connected through the Cranleigh Network, we could immediately find common ground discussing our experience and how things might have changed between each of our times at the school.
I was invited to an assessment centre at Magway where I met Cecile in person and I was subsequently selected to come and be a member of the Magway family.
Throughout the process and after my internship I’ve kept in contact with Cecile and Vickie. Both of whom have continually been checking in, asking for updates and providing support where they could. My experience with connecting with people through the Cranleigh Network has shown me that at the core of all application processes are people, and finding experience to further your career and develop your skills can be as simple as demonstrating your passions and reaching out to connect.
This skill is something that has enhanced my other applications. With the guidance of Tim, I had newfound confidence in the recruiting process and later in 2021 I was invited to work as a Design Engineer for James Dyson as a top 0.3% applicant. I was invited to return in 2022.
Through my connections with the OC Society I have gained invaluable experience at two world-class companies all but in the space of a year and further to that the ability to go into any interview with my head held high. I still have a year and a half left of my university career and I’m excited to see where it all takes me.