This feature is a guest blog written by Ana-Rosa Broster from O2…

Science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) have always been a passion of mine since when I was a child. My passion has followed me through to university and my career today.  At O2, where I work now, not only do I get to look at some really interesting technology, but I also get to meet many talented young women through mentoring them on their studies and future careers.

Back in July, O2 hosted 26 young women at a work insight day at their HQ in Slough, as part of a Step into STEM mentoring programme.  In this seven-month mentoring programme organised by GirlsTalkLondon, along with BT, Vodafone, Ericsson, and O2, the girls have one-to-one sessions with their company mentors. We cover a range of things including CV skills and interview techniques as well as guidance on getting involved in STEM subjects.

The work insight day was a fantastic opportunity for the attendees to see some of the things we do at each of the businesses. As part of their day at O2 they took part in a mock assessment centre and listened to talks about early careers, plus some of the great things that O2 does with McDonald’s and Wayra.

They spent much of the insight day with The Lab, O2’s innovation engine. The Lab is working on many technologies that are having huge impacts in the business world – technologies such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, voice control, and virtual reality.  I’m really glad that the girls not only got to try out our lab’s augmented, mixed and virtual reality experiences, but they also got to see that women were working on such cutting-edge technologies. And they got to see how varied and interesting working for a STEM company can be.

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STEM is hugely exciting.  Here are just a few reasons why you should get into a STEM career:

  • A career in science, technology, engineering and maths can give you skills to work in most companies.
  • STEM will allow you to help develop new and exciting technologies, such as machine learning, smart phones, and augmented reality that will have huge impacts on our lives in future.
  • STEM can give you the opportunity to have a very varied and exciting career from the ever changing telecommunications and digital arena to the fast-paced world of Formula 1!
  • With a STEM education you can go into in any sector. And some of the careers you can go into may not be what you may imagine.  Archaeology, history, government, and education – these are just some of the unexpected areas that need scientific expertise!

And if you want to go into STEM careers, it’d be really helpful to have a mentor. A mentor will help you see what it’s like to have such careers, what you should study, and give you some perspectives.

For me, working with young women in Step into STEM has been very rewarding. I can tell that I’ve made a difference in their opinion of science and maths.  For example, after the insight day at O2 one girl got in touch wanting to do work experience with our innovation lab!

One of my proudest moments on this programme was watching the girls graduate last year at the end of the seven months. Seeing how much they got out of the programme made me so grateful to be part of it.   And I’ve got more to look forward to: the current group of girls will be graduating in October and I’m very much looking forward to attending their graduation ceremony, which O2 will be hosting.

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