Tamika Hewitt, BA Economics and Geography student at the University of Leeds

Tamika Hewitt

Tamika is an Economics and Geography BA student here at the University of Leeds. Tamika has undertaken an industrial placement year as part of her degree working as a Strategic Industries Sales Associate at SAP. Choosing to do an industrial placement year gives you the opportunity to develop your own skills, and gain a real insight into working life in a particular company or sector.

What is the name of the company you work for and what do they do?

SAP is one of the world's leading technology companies, providing enterprise application software for all types of firms across the globe. The company is constantly helping its customers stay innovative and grow using digital transformations. The intern programme here is also one of very few in the country where interns are trusted to hire their own replacements.

What is your role within the company?

My role is the Strategic Industries Sales Associate, meaning that I assist all the Sales Account Executives and Directors who sell to customers in the Financial Services, Public Sector and Retail industries. SAP however does offer internships in all departments including Sales, Ops, Marketing, Commercial etc. My role as Sales Associate allows me to witness and experience the whole sales cycle from start to finish (which can be a lengthy process) and all the ups and downs that come with it. Quite often it will be part of my job to pre-empt and resolve any problems which may arise, meaning I'm given a lot of responsibility. 

Can you give an insight into a typical day?

A typical day involves arriving and having a subsidised full English with my housemates in the office canteen before heading up to do my morning reports, which I do on most days. After that, my days can really vary, but I'm often involved in most of the team meetings where I will help the managers and Account Execs with their presentations. My managers trust me to be involved in meetings with the heads of the company which means I really get to experience how a global business is run. Sometimes I will be expected to be at events at Partner offices in Central London, or work with my team in the SAP office in Bank, which I really enjoy because city life is so busy. A lot of my day involves helping other interns out as well - the intern community at SAP is really tight, which has meant I've made so many great friends already, and everyone is always happy to help. 

What do you enjoy the most and do you get involved in any interesting projects?

At the moment I'm really enjoying being trusted with helping to create a new strategy for our sales team to ensure that we are engaging with the best opportunities in the banking sector. I really like doing this type of thing because I'm allowed to use my own initiative and attempt to impress my managers with my own ideas. What I love at SAP as well is that we're allowed to spend roughly 30% of our year working with another team, so I'm excited to try and work with the Consulting Services team at some point and see what it could offer me. 

Why did you want to undertake a year in industry?

I decided to take a year in industry partly because I didn't want to graduate yet, but mostly because I knew this would be an amazing experience. Someone here has told me that I should forget about knowledge, because anyone can read a book, but to focus on building skills because my skill set could be unique and valuable. I think this is a really good piece of advice, and whilst university has taught me so much, working here has already improved my skills massively in the three months or so that I've been here. Not just skills, but attributes like professionalism and the right attitude can be improved massively. 

What do you think you have got out of this experience so far?

Firstly, my network has increased massively - I now know so many professionals in so many industries, and everyone is so willing to help. So many people at work have already offered to help me with my dissertation research, and they're coming up with opportunities to get me involved in things that would be of interest to me. And although it sounds cheesy, I've already made friends for life here - whilst the company embraces diversity and everyone is different, we all have the same mindset and ambition which is great. Lastly, I've learnt so much - not just about how to expertly navigate Excel - but also about how the technology industry works, and what is in the future for all consumers and firms. 

Do you have any tips and advice to current students thinking of undertaking a year in industry?

Firstly - do it. 100%. Apply as early as possible and to as many as possible - a few friends left it until late in the year and it was stressful with the pressure of exams, so many gave up or couldn't get one. Be as prepared as possible for assessment centres because whilst they can be fun, they are very stressful depending on how badly you want the role. If you do get a role, make the most of it. I spent a lot of my time, in the beginning, making sure that I knew who everyone was and making time to chat with people - this way people are more willing to help you out if you need it later and it also means that you build great relationships. It can be really difficult joining such a big company at first, but it will work out if you put your all into it, and people definitely recognise hard work.