National Careers Week is back: a Q&A with Glen McGowan

There are some questions which will be familiar to anyone who’s left education and been faced with the challenge of building a rewarding career. How do you get onto the right ladder to take you where you want to go? How do you figure out what sort of work you’d be good at and enjoy? Where do you even begin?

Luckily for anyone trying to figure out the answers to those questions now, National Careers Week 2017 will be running from Monday 6th to 10th March.

Now into its sixth year, National Careers Week – or NCW to its friends – brings together the best of careers advice and resources across the country, and coincides with both National Apprenticeship Week and Scottish Apprenticeship Week. If you’re starting your career, fancy a change, or are a careers adviser or employer, these dates belong in your diary.

With RBS acting as headline sponsor for the second year running, I spoke to our Head of Early Careers Glen McGowan about what we have planned, and what makes NCW such a great event.

Time to focus

Jon: Why did we decide to sponsor National Careers Week again this year?

Glen: We were always looking at it as a two year partnership. Last year was fantastic for us, with lots of people meeting us out on the road, and many times more hitting us up on Facebook and Twitter! It’s a great way for us to talk to people who are considering apprenticeships, internships and graduate programmes, and let them know more about what we offer. We want to let those people know that we’re recruiting and that they should consider us as a place where they can start their career. We talk about helping people find their passion and their potential at RBS, and events like these are a chance to show people how we really live it too.

Jon: And what does NCW mean for the people who are setting out to build a career?

Glen: I look at it as a time to focus on career opportunities and development. If you’re normally busy studying, or if you’re concentrating on living your life in other ways, these things can sometimes get a bit lost in the mix. NCW is there to provide a spotlight. You’ve got various schools, universities and colleges who’ll all be running lots of activity and making plenty of noise, so there’ll be lots of information available on building a career. It’s a great way for people to stop, focus and take action!

The Best School Trip, Ever

Jon: So what are we going to be doing during the week?

Glen: We’re going to be inviting people to play our new “Your passion. Your potential” game which will go live on our Early Careers website for National Careers Week. We’re also going to be running talks focussing on graduate and apprenticeship opportunities across the country. Part of that will be our “Best School Trip, Ever” events, which will be hosted in our Manchester and Birmingham offices for local schools.

We’ll also have a Technology Apprentice Insight Day to kick off the week in Edinburgh that anyone interested in apprenticeships can sign up to. Inside the bank, we’re encouraging our colleagues to join Career Development Days which will take place during the week – so the focus doesn’t stop when you join the bank – we’re making a time for all our current people to think about their careers.

Jon: What are you looking forward to most during the week?

Glen: I’m really looking forward to seeing our current Grads and Apprentices going out to inspire school pupils through all of the talks we have planned. For them it’s a great opportunity to act as ambassadors for the bank and to give something back. Community work is something we care about a lot, and we make sure we build that into our programmes anyway, but when we can motivate other young people it’s particularly special.

More than just a game

Jon: What do you think will surprise people most about what we’re offering in the week?

Glen: Definitely the game, I think. It’s quite a cool and fun way to show how playing a game can help you learn a lot about your skills. It’s a lot more than just building the highest tower or collecting stars. We actually use a game in our graduate selection process called Cosmic Cadet, which places players onboard the Star-Ship comet to complete different challenges. We use this to understand what makes individuals tick and to uncover the strengths and behaviours that make them who they are.

Jon: One more question then, and this is probably the big one: why should people be interested in finding out more about our Early Careers programmes?

Glen: Joining us gives you a great opportunity to create a really strong network and learn through on-the-job training. We know that providing employment and learning opportunities for people starting out their careers is one of the most important things we can do as an employer, and it’s something we commit to. We recruit apprentices and undergraduates into lots of different parts of our business, and we help them gain the kinds of experience and qualifications which can really set them up for their entire career. Sustaining career development is something we know is really important, so the training, coaching and mentoring opportunities are very much geared to helping people do that.

Perhaps the key thing though is this: from day one at RBS you’ll get involved in high impact projects. We hire people because of their talents, and believe in letting them use them from the start. For them, it means more than just contributing to something that matters straight away; it helps them to find out what they enjoy, and decide where they want to be next.

Looking ahead to NCW2017

Take a look at our graduate and internship programmes, read about our apprenticeship opportunities, and register for the Technology Apprenticeship Insight Day. And don’t forget to follow #NCW2017 for all the latest news and events up and down the country.

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