October 9, 2023
Meet Anna and Jenny from Step UP
As part of Step Up, a free six-month program for female students in their penultimate year of university in the UK, Ghana, Germany, Singapore & India, we offer participants access to skills development training, career events and mentorship. Working with our sponsoring businesses, BT Group, Virgin Media O2 and Vodafone, we pair our students with mentors to work alongside them for the duration of the program.
As we wrapped up another successful program this summer, we spoke with our mentee, Anna Bugain and her mentor, Jenny, at Virgin Media O2 to learn more about their experience.
Mentee: Anna Bugain | Second-year student at Birkbeck, University of London, studying BS, Data Science and Computing.
How would you summarise Step UP in three words?
Transformative, priceless, and launchpad.
How has the program contributed to your career progression?
The highlight of the programme has been meeting my mentor, Jenny Viganego. She has played an integral role in the success of the Step UP programme. She helped me rewrite my CV and understand my strengths and weaknesses from a corporate perspective. She took the time to schedule additional meetings to ensure she was current with my training and progress on the Step UP scheme. Jenny kindly used her own network to find three technology professionals at VMO2 willing to share their learning journeys with me. Seeing the diverse backgrounds of these data professionals boosted my confidence in the end-of-scheme Steppers Assemble project.
I landed a paid and full-time summer software engineering internship with SEO London. Furthermore, I received a permanent job offer as a Client Relationship Manager with Folio Financial Advice.
I have grown a network of inspiring peers. We can lean on each other for reassurance and support. We can also turn to each other for advice and constructive feedback.
The programme has given me an exclusive look at the inner workings of some of the biggest telco companies in Europe. Through in-person workshops and online webinars, I have understood the critical components required to submit a competitive application for their grad schemes and placement years.
Can you share your most impactful learnings?
Impactful learning took place on the VMO2 Discovery Day in Slough. We went through a situational judgement test like the ones given to grad scheme applicants. Going through the answers with VMO2 professionals was an exceptional privilege, as you can’t find the answers anywhere online.
I also learned a lot from the monthly masterclasses. The Leadership, Communication, Decision Making & Influencing Skills masterclass hosted by Kate Self, Networks Demand Manager at BT, was excellent. I could relate to her doubts and fears when starting her career in tech, and I picked up great application tips. For example, in your application, mirror the terminology used in the job ad. If the job ad focuses on ‘business support operations’, don’t use ‘admin duties’ as a substitute.
What’s next for you?
I am excited to enter my second year of evening studies at Birkbeck College (BSc in Data Science and Computing). Simultaneously, I will start my new role as Client Relationship Manager at Folio Financial Advice. The hiring manager informed me that I was chosen for this position because of my tech background and extensive experience with business computing systems. In my role, I will oversee the digital transformation of client communications and train other financial advisors on new software. It will be a busy year, but I am eager to give back to the community by representing Girls Talk Corporation at future career fairs.
Mentor: Jenny Viganego | Partner Performance Senior Manager at Virgin Media O2
How would you summarise the program in three words?
Inspirational, motivating, enlightening.
What skills did you gain or improve from being a mentor?
My ability to adapt to other’s ways of working certainly improved & my listening skills too.
Early on, we decided that the one session a month wasn’t enough to get the most out of this opportunity, so we had fortnightly 30-minute catchups and a monthly 1-2-1 for an hour. As part of our sessions, I grew my internal network at VMO2 by reaching out to specialists in the fields of interest of my mentee and setting up sessions for her to speak with them to gain insight. I learned a few technical things along the way, too!
Which element of the Step UP program did you enjoy most?
The initial “speed matching” session was great, as mentors often select mentees. So, this was inventive and fun, giving the mentees to see who they felt they had a better affinity to. From a personal perspective, I was overjoyed that Anna picked me. We clicked straight away and were able to build on that to make the most of each of our sessions.
Applications are now open if you’d like to join our 2024 Step UP program as a mentee! Click here to apply and share with anyone who might benefit from our free program.