By Vicki Field
Combined Social Sciences (‘95-‘98)
“So, what do you want to be when you grow up?” – the question that has stimulated (or mainly traumatised) every child. My two still say they’re going to play for Liverpool, bless them. Nothing wrong with dreams.
I found out what I wanted to do when I became Vice President (VP) of St John’s College JCR. At the time, the role involved pastoral care (including choosing which freshers should share a room – please forgive me), and domestic matters (yes! I was responsible for introducing the salad bar, which I understand is still running). The JCR President and I worked closely with the Principal and Senior Tutor on everything related to student college life. It was like a full-time job but I absolutely loved it.
When musing what I should do in my third year (and I didn’t want to be an Accountant or Lawyer like Literally Everyone Else), my then boyfriend suggested Human Resources as the role that mapped most closely to VP.
It was a great suggestion, and I was one of 2000 Grads applying to the inaugural Vodafone HR Graduate scheme, which kicked off my career.
Due to the numbers, it was a finely tuned process including a variety of competency based interviews, practical exercises and ‘socials’. I can honestly say that the only reason I was offered that role was because of my experiences as a VP at St John’s.
“Can you tell me about a time where you made changes that benefitted a number of people?” Yes, yes I can.
“Please share an experience of when you had to negotiate with a multitude of shareholders to fulfil your objectives”. Hmm, where do I start.
“Please tell me about how you manage multiple priorities” How long have you got.
You get the picture. At the end of it, the interviewer put down her pencil and said ‘boom’ (or the equivalent).
Employers, even then, looked for something more than just academics and being a member/drinker in the local sports team. John’s gave me a great degree, an amazing undergrad experience, a family, the best friends I ever made, formative experiences and – taking all of that into account – opened the door to what I love doing every day.