Visit to Travelport

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By Nikitha Bade, Year 9

On 2nd February, five Year 9 girls from Herschel were given the opportunity to experience the world of careers in STEM. The five of us, and students from six other schools, were invited by a major travel company called Travelport, which is based in Slough.

Travelport is an industrial company who power new technology for global travel. The purpose of our visit was to experience working with technology, different career paths in technology and what it’s like on an everyday basis.

The first thing was that we were given an amazingly detailed tour of the office environment, where we got to meet many IT employees typing away at their desks, occasionally getting up for coffee. It was just like a quiet classroom! The tour ended quickly, and we all gathered in a large and very professional meeting room. We were challenged to complete an interesting quiz which resulted in suggested technology careers depending on our personality.

Later, we were introduced to a latest technology app which kept customers updated on travel business, which was very helpful, and the technology used was very intelligent. An intern called Kirsty taught us about important ways of networking and how people in the workplace communicate. We were given advice on how we must lead our careers successfully. Many experienced women who have excelled in STEM careers spoke to us and told us their childhood and life stories and, in every detail, answers to many of our questions. We also met the CEO of Travelport and asked him lots of questions and for his advice!

Overall the day was a great experience; we have learnt some good and bad things about STEM careers and which qualifications (GCSE and A levels) we would need to have a certain career. We learnt about dealing with different people in the workplace and how daily lives are for women in the STEM industry. The trip to Travelport has made a good impact on the five of us (Nikitha, Tharuka, Humda, Hemani and Shreya). I advise you to investigate a STEM career. It’s completely different to what you might think!

By Hemani Sandal, Year 9

The day started off with a warm welcome by Travelport and talks by 'Learning to Work' and Travelport's Executive Vice President and Chief Commercial Officer, Stephen Shurrock. We had a quick tour of the building, seeing various sections such as the legal and financial departments. Then, we were split into small teams and had to complete a 'People Like Me' worksheet. It contained many different adjectives and we had to choose the ones that best described us. This led us to finding out which types of careers we would be best in (for example management roles or training roles) and what sort of jobs would fit into those categories.

After a quick break, we had a talk about personal branding. Personal branding is the practice of people marketing themselves and their careers as brands. For example, Donald Trump uses his last name to endorse products such as the 'Tump Towers'. To realise what impact this could have in situations such as job interviews, we were asked: what is the impact you have on the room? What do people say about you once you've left? What do you portray yourself as and do people think similarly? We also spoke about social networking - no, not the sites like Instagram, but instead how we communicate. Believe it or not we are always social networking because we are always communicating! We were given tips on how to network effectively in job interviews, such as making eye contact and having a good posture.

Then, we met the technical analysist who talked to us about the technology behind some of Travelport's best apps. We had a go at programming our own 'Chatbot' and learnt how virtual reality is created.
In the afternoon, we had a speed interview session with Travelport's female employees to ask them about their jobs and day to day life in the STEM industries. This was to gain knowledge on how rewarding STEM careers can be and to put our networking skills that we learn earlier on into use. After, we listened to each of the employees tell us about their journey. It was amazing to see how some of them didn't even plan to come into a STEM career! It was also amazing to hear how some of them were the only females in their higher education STEM classes! We learnt how you aren't going to just wake up one day and know exactly what you want to do in life. You need to see and try different things to get the full picture of what you want to do. Life isn't always going to go to plan.

Finally, we spoke to the CEO of Travelport, Gordon Wilson. He told us that it's important to never lose face and always persevere - your gender should NEVER be a barrier!

We had a great day and would like to thank Travelport and Learning to Work for hosting the event and Mr Wilkins for enabling us to participate. It was truly an enjoyable day!