There is no greater testament to the effectiveness of a great student experience than seeing its alumni giving back, and this is exactly what ITMB graduates Ryan Clifford and Jon David Carman decided to do when they created the Tech Allies Network, bringing together Tech Partnership Degrees students and alumni.
In this interview, we catch up with Ryan Clifford (Corporate Banking Graduate Analyst for Barclays) and Jon David Carman (Technology Business Partner for GSK), who share their motivation for creating the network, its benefits to students and alumni, and their vision for the future.
(Pictured above: Ryan, left, and Jon, right)
What was it that specifically made you want to set up the Tech Allies Network?
There are two main reasons why we wanted to set up the Tech Allies Network:
- The student experience doesn’t end after graduation and if anything the learning curve gets even steeper in the world of work. We wanted a network that could act as a catalyst to maintaining a competitive edge and accelerating your career development.
- A network can be powerful if tapped into correctly. We believe that by creating a space for students and alumni, you start to build a professional network quickly which can start adding value to your development straight away.
What skills from your degree or workplace have enabled you to make this happen – and is there anything new that you’ve learned in the process of establishing it?
The vision came from being part of the Tech Partnership Degree community, experiencing first hand that if you take up opportunities then it can act as a game changer at the start of your career. A few skills we’ve utilised are:
- Being innovative and creative when setting up the brand and the value proposition.
- Having the technical skills and mind-set to develop a website and to create video animations.
- Having the people skills to generate buy in from companies to create new initiatives and partnerships.
- Having the network to even start this! Everything has been built by people’s goodwill while also having a full time job.
We’ve learnt a lot in the process of establishing it but most importantly, resiliency! We’ve had to determine when to pivot and when to preserve which can be tiring at times, however, we have already started to make a positive difference to people which makes it all worth it.
Can you give three takeaways for students and alumni as to why they should join the Tech Allies Network?
- Develop the technical and soft skills required to succeed in the world of work.
- Connect to a network who are interested/are utilising technology in many different forms.
- Maintain a competitive edge so you can continually develop and progress your career.
Given your busy professional careers, how do you see the Tech Allies Network operating on a daily basis?
We are a network built for and run by students and working professionals. Our committee does this side of desk alongside full time jobs because they are passionate about technology and helping others along their journey. The value in helping to run the network is you can gain great skills which help in our professional careers as well.
Do you have any clear goals in mind through which to measure the ongoing success of the Tech Allies Network?
We started off with setting numbers to achieve and then we realised that the impact we have on individuals is more important than numbers. We’ve already started to run masterclasses across multiple universities, which have helped students to win competitions. This summer we will be running our first Summer Institute pilot, which will create fantastic opportunities for 12 first year students.
Success for us over the next year will be engaging with alumni of the Tech Partnership Degrees and continuing our student outreach to universities and schools.
One of your core propositions is around mentoring. How has mentoring helped you in your career and can you tell us what makes this new programme unique?
Ryan: I would not be where I am now without the many mentors (informally and formally) that have helped me along the way. Most of the time it’s the simple advice and a listening ear which has the biggest impact.
Jon: I completely agree, I’ve been fortunate to have several very impactful mentoring relationships during my career to-date, it’s a powerful tool and something we want to encourage others to engage with.
Our industry mentoring programme is unique because we are challenging the status quo and asking, what if mentoring happened on the spot when you needed it and was done using your phone? It can be as simple as a text. Our approach to mentoring is informal and driven by the mentee. We believe the natural progression should start as a mentoring relationship but eventually just become part of your network.
At the Tech Partnership South event in Reading in March, you announced what sounds like an incredible Summer intern programme. Can you tell us a bit more about what it offers and how you were able to arrange such a unique opportunity?
Summer Institute is a 4-week programme which allows first year students to discover how technology is utilised in 3 different industries; partnering with GSK, IBM and a financial services company (to be announced). Most students can only experience one or two industries before committing the start of your career to one after graduating. We believe students should be more informed about the range of opportunities available before committing, which is why we creating this game changing programme.
Joining this programme helps you to develop your skills and expand your network. Find out more and how to apply at www.techalliesnetwork.org
We were able to arrange this unique opportunity by leveraging our own networks and by being passionate about a great idea.
Finally, what should people do if they want to get involved with the Tech Allies Network?
Engage with us on social media (@techalliesntw) on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn.
If you have an idea or want to help as part of our committee, then contact us at [email protected]