A recruiter at CGI has urged young IT apprentices to start thinking about their career now, if they want to have successful and satisfying jobs in the future.
Steve Thorn, senior vice president of application services and recruiter at IT services provider CGI, was speaking to IT apprentices aged 16 to 18 at the National Skills Academy for IT's IT Gold Standard Apprentice Event in London. The event aimed to give the youngsters, who already have the technical skills, a masterclass in soft skills such as public speaking and networking.
"Career planning will make a difference to you," said Thorn. "I plead with you to start now.
"Nothing is worse than somebody who, when the interviewer asks 'where do you want to go next', they answer 'I don't know'."
One of Thorn's own career aspirations, for example, was wanting to travel. And during his 24 years at CGI, he has been proactive in achieving his ambitions, which has resulted in time spent living in Hong Kong, Finland and Sweden, as well as numerous trips to the US.
"I wrote down that I wanted to travel. I went off and did the networking [to get what I wanted]. Otherwise, it's just a wishlist in a drawer," he said.
For Thorn, the size of the business where an apprentice works matters little. A total 425 apprentices, employed by around 360 SMEs, are on the National Skills Academy for IT programme.
"The key for me is career planning," he reiterated.
If anything, Thorn believes that SMEs provide apprentices with learning opportunities that might be out of their reach in larger companies.
"The SME sector is an increasingly important part of our economy," he said.
"If you work for an SME, you get an opportunity to do things you wouldn't be able to do in a bigger firm or a bigger project."
He advised: "Never shy away from the opportunity to go see an end user, to ask the question 'why'."
Ian Brooks, head of innovation at HP, told the apprentices at the same event that they will need to be flexible and willing to self-train if they are to be successful.