Over 160 students came along to the impressive EICC in Edinburgh on Wednesday 16th October, to meet with 20 companies all looking to recruit female STEM students and recent graduates.
The inspiring event, sponsored by EY, took place in the heart of Edinburgh’s Haymarket at one of the largest event venues that STEM Women have hosted in.
As midday approached on event day, large groups of eager students began to filter through the doors, with some travelling all the way from Glasgow to make the most of this exciting day. Many students also took advantage of the free coach service from campuses across Glasgow and Edinburgh.
The event began with a welcome talk from Sophie Chadwick, our events manager, followed by an inspiring presentation by Laura Sleigh from EY. As the talks began, the theatre space was packed out with students fascinated to hear what it’s like to work for a large company like EY.
As the welcome presentation drew to a close, the students made their way into the exhibition space to meet with the employers, network and ask any questions about current job opportunities. Around the room, there were representatives from EY, BlackRock, Diageo, Network Rail and Scot Rail, Cirrus Logic, The British Army, Zonal, PwC, Goldman Sachs, Accenture, KPMG, Morgan Stanley, Bloomberg, Baker Hughes, McLaughlin & Harvey Construction, FDM, BBC, RBS, and Lloyds Banking.
The companies had set up impressive stalls promoting the fabulous opportunities they have available, from graduate schemes to summer internships, alongside lots of free goodies for students to take away with them.
Charlotte, a recent graduate who studied Chemical Engineering at the University of Strathclyde, found the networking sessions very helpful towards her current job search:
“I spoke to a girl at Diageo who also studied chemical engineering and she’s gone into more of a management role, so it was really interesting to hear her experience. The skills that she had from her degree really helped her when going into the job so I’m thinking of applying for that same graduate scheme now too!”
As the excited buzz in the room began to build, lunch was served to the attendees. Everyone enjoyed a delicious choice of coconut chicken or beetroot curry with a rich chocolate brownie for dessert.
Whilst networking continued in the busy exhibitor room, an in-depth panel session began in the theatre with four women working in STEM industries. We welcomed Rachel Bussom from EY, Lauren McKie from Scot Rail who had recently been through the Economic Development Graduate Scheme, Warda Majid a Graduate Analyst from BlackRock and Ellen Edvaldsson a Maturation Business Leader for Diageo.
Hosted by our events manager Sophie, each of the women took it in turns to come to the front of the stage and take part in an informal interview about their career paths, the companies they work for and what it’s like being a ‘woman in STEM’.
First up was Rachel Bussom from EY, she spoke about her struggles with the applications process, how she overcame career hurdles and the reason she took her first graduate offer from EY:
“I went through the graduate programme and by the end, I had two offers on the table. I picked EY because of the equality and personal agenda that they have. When I went to the assessment centre, there was more of a 50/50 split of men and women, whereas, at the other place I had the offer from, it was all men. So, it was subtle things like that that made me make my decision.”
Lauren from Scot Rail gave students some great advice for navigating the application process and the importance of never ruling out an opportunity that comes your way:
“I didn’t really think that the railway had opportunities for me, but I had a go at applying for a graduate role and through that, I found out that the railway was about more than just engineering and a train on a track, there are so many different roles and opportunities. It is historically a male-dominated industry, so it was never something I expected to be doing after my degree, but it ended up being the absolute perfect role for me.”
After each company representative had spoken about their personal experiences, the second half of the session was opened for the students to ask the panelist questions. We enjoyed some thought-provoking topics, from making the transition from a technical degree to a leadership role to whether the panelists had ever approached their roles differently because they are women working in a typically male-dominated industry.
The panel was also asked if they had benefitted from having a mentor. Ellen from Diageo explained that her mentor had massively boosted her confidence: “I learned how to deal with a negative experience. My mentor helped me process that so that I could take something positive from each experience.”
The panel session was a huge success for both the companies talking and the students in the theatre. Rachel from EY highlighted how unique this format was for a careers event:
“I really loved the panel session, the four of us had completely different backgrounds, we come from completely different companies. Sure, I come from finance and BlackRock do too, so there was a bit of overlap there, but we do completely different things. And yet there was that common thread of, you know, getting into leadership, the difficulties of it and how we found the application process and we all gave similar advice which really showed how unified we all are.”
At STEM Women, we couldn’t be happier with how the event went and we can’t wait to host our next events in London, Birmingham, Manchester, Bristol and Dublin!
Alissa from Bloomberg highlighted just how important STEM Women events are to her company:
“It’s so important to have women in every part of the workforce, I think encouraging graduates to start these roles and then helping them stay in those roles is super important to what we do. At our company, it’s important for us to constantly innovate and bring new ideas and I don’t think we could do that without a great variety of individuals and that includes a great share of women.”
If you’re a student looking to come along and join the fun, check out our events page and register for a ticket to one of our upcoming events! You can also become a STEM Women member and hear news of our upcoming events first.
Are you an employer looking to exhibit and talk at one of our events? Get in touch with our team today and be part of the next STEM Women event.