Last week, we got a sneak peek inside O2 HQ. Along with six Project Leaders from the Think Big programme, we visited the O2 head offices in Slough for a Digital Showcase day involving some serious office snooping and taste of what it’s like to work in O2’s tech innovation space, The Lab.

Ignoring the ‘lab team only’ sign, we made ourselves at home, while the O2 team explained how they get started with new app ideas and concepts. They showed us how we can test out our own app ideas on our friends, and revealed the handy tools and apps they use in the process of making prototypes. Did you know that POP can take your initial app design sketches and transform them into a digital prototype? We obviously downloaded this immediately.

Later, we put some age recognition software to the test, and had a go at walking around with dinosaurs and swimming with sharks using virtual reality headsets. We even put the office’s 3D printer into good use, scanning Project Leader Jessie’s head to create our own a mini version in green.

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Next, we moved to ‘The Bubble’, a meeting room with mood lighting and sweets hanging from trees (think: professional work-environment meets Willy Wonka) and our Think Big project leaders presented their work to the O2 team for feedback and advice. (If you have a great idea, click here to see how you could get funding and become a Think Big Project leader too).

Not only did we come away from the day with MAJOR office envy, we also scooped some brilliant tips from The Lab’s top tech experts. Take a look below for advice from the pros at O2…

How to kick start your career in tech

“If you’re interested in technology then get some and start playing with it. Find out what interests you about that tech, follow it and own it,” suggests Simon Burfield, a Senior Mobile Developer at The Lab. “If you’re interested in coding, don’t wait for a school to teach you, pick up a book, watch some online videos and learn for yourself.”

“The world of tech is constantly evolving,” adds Jeremy Sherwin, Creative Director to The Lab and Customer Experience Dragon (yes, that is his real job title). “Be open to learning. There is a vast array of blogs, tools, courses, social trends and talks out there on the internet, and most of it’s free, you just need to take advantage of it.”

“Be curious, and don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty,” says Terence Eden, a Senior Project Manager at The Lab, tech blogger and real life Ted Talker. “You’ll learn a lot more from rolling your own solution and making mistakes than you will just by installing and using software.”

“Understand that what motivates you isn’t what motivates everyone else. It’s OK to build a service which is perfect for your needs – but you need to look at what your customers want in order to grow.”

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How to impress potential employers

“Enthusiasm is key for me,” says Simon. “If I interview someone who is interested in learning web development but has never tried to learn it themselves, I instantly ask why!”

“Start a blog!” recommends Terrence. “Write a short article every week about what you’ve learned, an interesting problem you’ve found, or some new tech that excites you.” Blogging isn’t just for wannabe journalists, he emphasizes: “Proficiency with the written word is essential – and blogging is an excellent way to practice communicating complex ideas.”

How To Tackle Personal Obstacles

Are you an aspiring techie but lacking in confidence? “Take some acting classes,” says Terence. “Confidence and vocal projection are all skills which can be learned.”

“Know your strengths and weakness,” recommends Simon. “Having a weakness is fine, I am dyslexic and I struggle with English, so if I have anything important to write, I ask people to check it.”

For more careers help from O2, keep an eye on our opportunities page.

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