Saabeh Shafique is studying a Tech Industry Gold accredited degree (ITMB) at Oxford Brookes University. His degree gave him the opportunity to undertake a placement year at PepsiCo as an IT functional analyst. We caught up with Saabeh and asked him about his experience.
Firstly – how are you and how have you been managing during the lockdown?
I’m doing very well, thanks. The start of the lockdown was a real challenge, but I’ve established a new routine to ensure that I got some normality in place. The routine included some exercise, reading and a bit of ‘Zoom’ for socialising. PepsiCo was amazing at giving support during the transition to the new work situation as it had many helpful articles and ideas to keep you entertained throughout the lockdown.
What’s it like studying a Tech Industry Gold accredited degree?
It’s great to study this degree as it covers a vast and varied number of topics in business and technology ensuring that you’re up to date with the industry. It also taught me to be agile and more importantly how to expand my network and create great connections.
How did you secure your placement and what process did you have to go through to get on the programme?
I saw the placement advertised on ratemyplacement.co.uk. I clicked on the link, went through an initial screening, answered a few questions, and uploaded my CV. I then had to do a video interview. After passing that, I was invited for an onsite interview and then had to do a presentation. I was later offered the role of an IT functional Analyst.
What was a typical day like?
Most days at PepsiCo were different. However, I did read my emails in the morning and attended daily ‘stand up’ meetings with third-party vendors, or with my team. The role provided lots of variety which included being a subject matter expert in multiple applications, testing power BI dashboards and implementing an AI chatbot.
What three things did you learn from the placement which will help you in your future studies/career?
I’ve learnt more about power BI, web development and I also improved on my communication skills; these skills will be helpful for my final year and my future.
What were the challenges?
A key challenge that I faced was working from home with new teams via Zoom. The reason why I found it challenging was that it’s slightly harder to build a strong relationship online whereas in the office you would be able to see them in person. However, I managed to get over the challenge by having rounds and catch-ups which resulted in building a great rapport with my new teams.
How has the experience helped you in terms of your employability skills? For example, presentation skills, networking, project management, agile working, critical thinking…etc
During my placement I have participated and led different projects; this gave me a great opportunity to develop my skills further. For example, I’ve done projects using agile working and seen first-hand how effective it is in getting results/feedback faster. I’ve also learnt to make my presentations more interactive with my team by having a Kahoot game or a Slido which helps us to have more fun in our meetings. Subsequently, in my placement, I also went to PepsiCo’s employee development sessions which included things like career advice, vendor management tips and various skill sessions. I believe these experiences have enhanced my employability skills tremendously.
What are you looking forward to next term?
I’m really looking forward to catching up with my friends and seeing them in person. I’m also keen on applying the knowledge from my placement to my final year as I feel more prepared and hope to utilise the new skills to work towards a first-class honour’s degree.
What else do you have planned for the summer?
The plan in the summer is to build a simple website using the knowledge from the placement and to also read a few new books. I am also planning on doing some gardening with my dad to improve my understanding of agriculture and to learn some new skills.
Anything else to add?
I would recommend going on a placement as it’s a great way to get some insight into the professional work environment and to also help you find your career path as it’s made me realise what I want to do in the future.
Finally, just a special thank you to everyone at PepsiCo and to those who have helped me on my journey.