• February 15, 2024

    How we helped Vanessa secure a role at Virgin Media O2

    As part of Step Up, a six-month program for female students in their penultimate year of university, we offer participants access to skills development training, career events and mentorship. Working with our sponsoring businesses, BT, HSBC UK, Virgin Media O2 and Vodafone, we pair our students with mentors to work with them for six months. Mentoring and access to opportunities takes place on The Hill app. 

    We love hearing and sharing the successes of our mentees, especially when they land a job as a result. So, we caught up with Vanessa Okwuike-Obaje, who secured a spot in the Graduate Technology Program at Virgin Media O2 after completing Step Up and finding out about the scheme on the app. 

    Get to know Vanessa

    While her career path has not been straightforward, Vanessa has always had a passion for all things technology from a very young age. Vanessa completed her first degree in geology and mining at the University of Jos, Nigeria, and worked for a few years in the aviation industry. Afterwards, she took advantage of the COVID lockdowns to return to school and pursue her first love- technology. So, she left aviation and decided to go back to the university and study for an MSc in Data Science and Artificial Intelligence at the University of Liverpool. 

    Empowered by Step Up 

    Did the Step Up programme make you feel more empowered to progress in a career in Tech? If so, how?

    Step Up was a fantastic experience for me. Like I said before, my career wasn’t straightforward, and when I went back to school, I felt like I couldn’t do it- maybe I was too old, or it was too late, or I was in over my head. But I met ladies in the industry just like me, which drove me to continue. Step Up connected me with an amazing mentor who is just like me in so many ways. Her career path is also very similar to mine- she studied one thing, worked in another industry and has finally found her home in technology. She also shared many challenges and gave me invaluable guidance to make it in this industry. 

    In addition, Step Up had a lot of masterclasses, career days, and other engagements with the organisations sponsoring the program. The program offered so much value, including CV advice, interview preparation, personal branding, marketing, leadership and communication, among others (too many to list here). There is a divide between what we learn in school and what we see in the real world. Having had a career before entering technology, I worried about making it. But Step Up “stepped up” to fill that gap and empowered me to continue.

    The highlight 

    What was the highlight of the Step Up programme for you?

    To be honest, everything. The masterclasses were amazing. Even if one feels that they know about something, for example, leadership or decision-making, there is always something new to learn. It might be that new thing that makes the difference. The career days also gave steppers the opportunities to get an inside look at the workings of technology organisations- something we would never have without Step Up. 

    But I must mention my mentor- Beverly. She was simply the best. I cannot overemphasise the importance of mentoring in one’s career, especially as a young woman in this male-dominated industry. Even though I’ve graduated from the programme, she keeps in touch and offers guidance and support.

    Impactful learnings

    Can you share your most impactful learnings from the programme?

    It’s never too late nor too early to make an impact. We are all leaders in one way or another, and no matter how much I think that I don’t know, I always have something to offer, and learning is a continuous process. I am capable of doing it with hard work and dedication.

    Another thing that I learned is how to deal with impostor syndrome. This is something that I still struggle with, and Step Up taught me how to handle it.

    Career progression

    Have you received any new opportunities during or since completing The Step Up programme?

    During the Step Up programme, the organisation shared information about the Graduate Technology Program at Virgin Media O2 on the app. From here, I applied and eventually got the job, with guidance and support from the Hill app team and my Step Up mentor.


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