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November 20, 2018, by Carla

A Day in the Life of a Technology Graduate

By Olivia Kaluna, BSc Management (2017)

I’m Olivia and I’m a 2017 technology graduate at Dunelm. While no day is ever the same, here’s an insight into what I get up to…

Around 8.45am I get to work. I usually end up having a chat in the car park about the baby alpacas I saw at the weekend – my new obsession, they’re just so fluffy! – and head in to grab a drink and some breakfast from our Pausa café. I am not a morning person, so I’m pretty grateful for the subsidised coffee shop.

Being micro-managed is one of my pet hates, so it means a lot to me that my team and line manager understand that I have a life outside of work, that emergencies happen and will allow me some flexibility in my working hours when needed.

At 9am I catch up on my emails, review my Kanban board – a board of virtual post-it notes which my team use to keep track of tasks – and make a to-do list for the day. This allows some leeway for impromptu distractions – birthday celebrations, blu-tac modelling competitions…

At 9.30am I attend the ‘stand-up’ meeting for another project. This is mainly for my own development and gives me inspiration and experience of how to effectively manage a team in a more ‘agile’ way. It also gives me an insight into the progress of tasks in other parts of the business.

Afterwards, I catch up with one of my colleagues working on the project who is in a different department to find out if they need my support.

At 10am I attend a charity committee meeting with representatives from all departments of the business. Charity is something I’m extremely olivia 3passionate about, so it was great to get involved. I listen to updates on charity projects, giving an update on the project I’m championing – collecting Christmas gifts for disadvantaged children. Yes, I am *that* person who talks about Christmas in August! 141 days to go…

At 11am we have a departmental huddle where we are given an update on our trading progress over the last week, new projects and service initiatives which have been launched, and what’s upcoming!

At 11.20am I complete some analysis of feedback I’ve received from one of my workshops. I write a proposal for next steps and share the feedback. I’ll later share this with Chris, the CIO and the Tech HR Business Partner.

At 12pm somewhere between the Love Island gossip and close-ups of Matt’s face on our grad WhatsApp group, there’s a daily cry for a lunch congregation. I meet the rest of the 2017 graduates and we sit outside in the courtyard for lunch and a spot of table tennis!

At 12.30pm I have a stand-up with my project team where we discuss what we had for lunch – mayo in sandwiches needs to be a thing of the past! – review our progress, decide on priorities and identify actions.

At 1pm I am approached by a project manager who has some queries about GDPR and how to embed security considerations into the design of her project. I guide my colleague through this process as well as introducing her to the information security team.

At 1.15pm I work with the technician for our service support ticket-logging system to generate some reports to share with senior stakeholders. This report will be used at the next team meeting to support anecdotal feedback that there was an increase in calls.

At 2.30pm I watch some training videos for an upcoming exam I have for my cybersecurity apprenticeship. The apprenticeship is challenging, but it pushes me to seek out opportunities to further my technical skills that I would otherwise shy away from. Not having a tech degree hasn’t been a barrier at all on my rotations so far.

At 3.30pm I have a reverse mentoring session with one of the exec directors at Dunelm. In these sessions, I give an insight into topics such as social media, leveraging big data and current trends that influence Millennials and Generation Z. This is an amazing opportunity to influence the future strategy of the company and get exposure to exec directors.

At 4pm I have a meeting with two of the other grads to discuss progress on a new store initiative. We’ve been empowered to do things our own way and pilot some of our own ideas in a Dunelm store, with the goal that it’ll be rolled out across our estate if successful.

At 4.30pm I update my project Kanban board, create some content for a new workshop and did some admin.

At 5.15pm I leave for the commute home. The time I leave is up to me and it varies from day-to-day. There are peaks and troughs in effort, but when I am concerned about my workload, Chris is quick to work with me to come up with a plan to alleviate the pressure and avoid burnt out!

For more insights into what life is like in different professions, check out our Spotlight On programme.

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