Little Moments, Big City

This summer, we will run our tenth annual Big City Bright Future programme, a three-week paid work experience programme, created especially to help school leavers who aspire to work within competitive industries. We spoke to two former IntoUniversity students who took part in the programme about the little moments from the programme that affected their career pathways.

Isha – Big City Bright Future 2019

Isha is a former IntoUniversity Walworth student who took part in Big City Bright Future in 2019 where she interned at BlackRock. She first heard about IntoUniversity during Secondary school as staff came to her school every year to run FOCUS workshops, before she decided to attend the centre to access our mentoring and work experience opportunities.

“[My first memory of the centre was that it was] very welcoming and it was very warm and they made you feel comfortable instantly. Even at times when I felt like I couldn’t do things and I felt my CV was so rubbish, they always taught me that there’s always space for improvement and never made me feel low at any moment. It’s the little things that they said or they did that had a big impact and meant a lot to me. “There’s many things [that were significant about coming to the centre] but in particular hearing about the Big City Bright Future opportunity and thinking, ‘Oh my gosh, I really want to go for this’. You have to stand out whether it’s from your CV, activities that you’ve done, so I remember always making sure I was present and active for anything that IntoUniversity was doing so that it made me stand out. 

“And I remember receiving the email, just saying ‘Congratulations, you’ve been chosen’ and finding out that I was going to work at BlackRock. So [I loved] getting the email and knowing that everyone around me that helped me to get to that point were also as excited as I was.

“It’s nice that through Big City Bright Future, I’ve met amazing people that I can say I’m still in touch with, and have actually guided me to where I am now with a lot of the decisions I’ve made with employment as well. Because back then you were not really taught much about employment at school. 

“[During the internship] they put a lot of emphasis on networking; I didn’t realise till I was part of IntoUniversity and the Big City Bright Future programme that networking is a powerful tool. When you meet someone, they can connect you to another person, and they would say “You want to study law. I know someone you could speak to” or “I know someone in our office that works with the in-house law team,” and they would guide you on how to go about your journey and your routes”.

“I’m now a People and Staffing Assistant Manager for a contract catering company. We do contract catering for corporate sites including in the city. I’m in the client support team, so I work with agencies to provide us with front and back of house staff for sites. I also deal with the HR aspect, like payroll, the interviewing process and the off boarding and onboarding process.

IntoUniversity and Big City Bright Future has helped me with getting to where I am because of networking and building my confidence in effective communication. When I was in Secondary school I didn’t have much confidence to push myself and involve myself in a lot of things, but after being part of the programme it’s really allowed me to see a different side of what putting yourself out there can do. “[To younger students], I would say don’t shy away from putting yourself out there now. IntoUniversity is a powerful, powerful, powerful organisation because they open doors for a lot of people and their reach is amazing. Networking is a powerful tool. Continue using the tools and the resources around you and don’t limit yourself.”

Asma – Big City Bright Future 2021

Asma is a former IntoUniversity Kennington student who took part in a virtual Big City Bright Future in 2021, where she interned at Bloomberg. She was first supported by IntoUniversity at Secondary school, during a half term Holiday FOCUS workshop themed around Medicine.

“The first thing [I remember about IntoUniversity] was I really liked the staff. I still remember their names, Olivia and Darius. I think that was the main part of it, the building and the centre didn’t [matter] to me as long as it had all the necessities and it’s safe and comfortable. But I think it was the actual staff members that really made the difference. Otherwise I wouldn’t have wanted to keep in touch.

“[The biggest lesson I learned while at IntoUniversity is] perseverance. Well, more so they’ve allowed me to learn it myself. Throughout GCSEs and A levels, and then through extenuating circumstances I had to go through during COVID which affected my education quite severely,  I was able to get their support . And I think I wouldn’t have been able to persevere through that if it wasn’t for the support and the shoulder to lean on which was IntoUniversity.

“[In Secondary school, my mentor] organised a tour of my dream university, even though it wasn’t hers, as she had a friend that went to that university. She got in contact with her friend and it was quite nice having my mentor and her friend give me a tour of my dream university. I think that that memory is what let me to hold on to the dream of going to that university one day because after COVID had affected everything, I wasn’t able to apply to that university. 

“In Year 13, I got back in touch with one of the IntoUniversity staff and told her how I have been really affected going back to school and my grades have completely plummeted.

“We had a meeting and I told her about how it’s very difficult for me to apply directly for Medicine for undergrad now and as we were working through graduate medicine,we got into a conversation where she saw from my CV that I’m also actually very suited for finance without me realising it. That’s how I found out about Big City Bright Future. 

“Two or three weeks later, after that meeting, she emailed me and she sent me the link [to apply] and said “it’ll be after your A levels, but the application will be throughout Year 13 and all the IntoUniversity staff will be happy to help you with the application and with each stage as well”. It was very touching as well; the fact that she was still thinking of me even though that meeting was over. 

“My interview at Bloomberg really stood out to me. I think it’s because they really treated me like an adult; they treated me the same as they treated any other person trying to also get into Bloomberg. That’s something I really appreciated because it meant that they didn’t see me as a teenager; I appreciated that they respected me in that way.

“Bloomberg had such a variety of departments and I think seeing just the variety by itself was the one thing that stood out to me the most – the way that they showed us the engineering department, the consulting department, the finance department.

“In Year 13, I was still very much set on applying to Medicine. It was quite a daunting interview process and I wasn’t able to prepare for it or do mocks due to lockdowns so I decided to take a gap year. I knew that I had Big City Bright Future in the summer at that point which could financially cover me over the summer as well.

“[It was during my gap year] I decided to do something different. Engineering was something that I was passionate about as a hobby, I was into robotics. I think that’s what made me decide to go for Biomedical Engineering. I came across a specific YouTube video where biomedical engineers and surgeons were able to work together and I was in awe. And I thought if I do manage to get a role in engineering, that’s the kind of thing I want to do. And if I don’t, I’ve got Big City Bright Future as an experience that would allow me to stand a chance in finance jobs because I know how competitive they are. And I also have medicine as an option because I would be doing biomedical. And I was like, well that’s the degree that will allow me to have the most doors open to me.

“So I’m currently almost finished with my foundation year at City, University of London for their Biomedical Engineering degree. And I’m waiting to hear back from King’s College London to see if they would accept my foundation year there for next year. 

“The main advice I would give to younger students is that things will work out one way or another. It might take longer for it to work out, but it will work out as long as you just keep working hard and persevering.”

Download the latest edition of aspire

Our latest news

Share on

This summer, we will run our tenth annual Big City Bright Future programme, a three-week paid work experience programme, created especially to help school leavers who aspire to work within competitive industries. We spoke to two former IntoUniversity students who took part in the programme about the little moments from the programme that affected their career pathways.