Name: Amra Shahid
Current Position: Technology Consulting Analyst
Did you do anything similar to the CW ICS programme before you were 35?
Do you feel that it would have benefitted your career?
Yes most definitely! It would have shown future employers that I could work for a developing community supporting a good cause internationally and challenging myself voluntarily. It would have also enhanced my career by working in a different environment and culture where I had to adapt to the local people and use my knowledge and skills in a suitable way.
It would have been amazing to take away a rewarding experience that could add a unique and extra dimension to my career and personal growth.
What is your most recent position, with what organisation and which sector was this in?
I currently work as a ‘Technology Consulting Analyst’ for a Global Fortune 500 Professional Services company called Accenture. We work with businesses on large scale Technology and Transformation projects. During my time here I’ve worked on four different projects in a variety of industries which makes my job very exciting! I get the opportunity to do different roles and gain new experiences each time.
What was your first job?
My first ever job was at the age of 16 working part-time in a shoe shop. I absolutely loved it as I interacted with customers and learnt how to provide good customer service as well as stand on my feet all day. I then did two other part time jobs in retail whilst I studied and eventually trained as a Primary School Teacher. I worked with 7-9-year-olds for a few years and then challenged myself by embarking on a totally new career in Recruitment. I did this because I really wanted to learn about a new industry, expand my skills and knowledge. I dreamt of having a job in the city where I could combine my experience from teaching with something new.
Who has had the biggest impact on your career and why?
A variety of people including friends, family and anyone who had an interesting story. I would read magazines a lot whilst growing up and found inspiration from successful people, celebrities and famous people.
In the past few years, I met a variety of people in my professional and social life who collectively inspired me the most! They all bought something unique as individuals and fed my hunger to explore new experiences and follow my ambitions without them even realising it.
I wanted to be like them as all these people showed me that you can have a successful career or a change in career if you work hard and believe in yourself. You just have to have the right attitude and be passionate! Meeting them encouraged me to take risks and be confident because I was determined to gain further success improve my lifestyle and future job prospects.
Advice for Young People
What are the most important things to ensure your career continues to progress?
- Network! It’s always about who you know, create connections everywhere you go and new opportunities will open up. Identify who the decision makers and key people are at work, people should always be aware of your presence and know what your skills and capabilities are. Building relationships at work is crucial as it will help you do your job better, give you recognition and when it comes to promotion you will have a network that can support you.
- It is also important to network outside of work as you can learn so much through meeting new people who can help you with your career or the things you enjoy doing in your free time. Gain new experiences and have fun! You can grow your network by doing a hobby, participating in sports, volunteering or just socialising with friends. You will find that the more diverse your professional and social network is, the more inspired and confident you’ll become as a whole. You will have a wealth of knowledge and a broader understanding of the world which is advantageous.
- Have confidence in aiming high and developing yourself constantly. Set some goals short term and long term, don’t be afraid to take risks. Attend training whether it’s online or in a classroom, read about your industry and keep up to date with the news and competitor activity. Join professional networks on social media and get involved in events or voluntary work, try new things. Don’t be afraid to fail! Failure teaches valid lessons you and helps you grow. You may not get to your desired ambitions straight away! So take it one step at a time and your hard work and persistence will pay off.
- Ask questions at work – don’t be shy. People are always willing to help if you ask nicely and will support your curiosity and enthusiasm. Create opportunities to shadow colleagues that are more senior to you and mentor junior colleagues. This way you are learning and observing from those advanced in their career path and with junior colleagues, you can you apply what you have learnt and guide them on their journey.
What three things do you look for when hiring a young person?
Personality – Somebody who is confident, friendly and has a positive attitude
Hard working – A good work ethic, someone who is reliable and trustworthy
Enthusiasm – Having an appetite to learn and achieve, someone who is a self-starter that is adaptable to different activities and environments
What is the most difficult interview questions you’ve ever been asked? Hopefully, it’s none of these questions!
I usually do thorough interview preparation, research the company and industry beforehand. However, I’d advise you not to do too much of this as you want to sound natural in interviews and not like a robot reciting facts. Think of examples which show typical attributes that the interviewer is looking for in the job you are applying for e.g. problem solving, teamwork and leadership. Even if you can’t think of examples from you professional life, or if this is your first job then it’s perfectly fine to pick examples from your personal/academic life and talk about how you handled a certain situation, e.g. project work in university shows collaboration, participating in a sports demonstrates teamwork and competitiveness, baking cakes exhibits creativity and patience etc. You get the idea.
The more interviews you attend, the better you will become at them so don’t be disheartened if you don’t get a job straight away, it’s good practice.
The only questions I have found difficult are those that may relate to a skill that I do not have experience in. So in this situation, I would answer how I could develop it if I got the job and show my willingness to learn. If you display enthusiasm and excitement in an area you wish to progress, this is often seen as a positive thing by the interviewer. Nobody is perfect as we all have strengths and weaknesses and everyone has an area to further develop in, so bare that in mind. You just need to have that inner desire and it will naturally radiate from you in the interview.
Some young people feel frustrated that they cannot get the job they are after or start a business and feel anxious about their future. What would you say to them?
Don’t give up, never lose hope. As frustrating as it can be, hang in there, otherwise, it will be a downhill spiral which will make you feel 10 times worse! This is where your network and networking comes in handy. Reach out to people, ask for their advice and speak to them about their experiences and how they became successful or got their first job. Enquire about any job opportunities that they can refer or if they know anyone hiring. Think about how you can make yourself stand out from other people looking for the same job as you, acquire extra-curricular skills and activities to put on your CV.
Until you get a job, undertake some voluntary work you are interested in, read about inspirational entrepreneurs and business people who have been in the same situation as you and find out how they bounced back. Do some training courses, write a really good CV and have it reviewed by a recruiter and friends. Search organisations and career advisors who can provide free guidance on obtaining a job. Attend job fairs and get involved in your university alumni as you may find people there who you can speak to and they might have good connections to employers. Invest in building a strong LinkedIn profile, as this is like your online CV and a place where most employers will check before calling you for an interview. It is also a great platform to apply for jobs, join professional groups and get tips on landing your dream job.
Good luck and if you feel anxious this is normal, just find a way of understanding and managing your anxiety and you will be fine.