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A major pandemic hasn’t stopped students from a Norwich school getting work experience.

Aviva, the multinational insurance company, set Sixth Form students from University Technical College Norfolk (UTCN) a four-day challenge. The challenge was to think about ways to help Aviva’s customers and better serve them through the current COVID-19 crisis.
The challenge was launched via Microsoft Teams – the online conferencing software – and involved small teams of Year 12 students, who were given a week to develop a workable solution to the challenge. Each team was guided by a representative from Aviva, meeting ‘virtually’ through Teams, to develop their ideas using either an existing App or developing a new piece of software. Their ideas were presented to Aviva, again, via Teams.
The prize-winning group under the mentorship of Jo Satterley, Aviva Business Analysis Practice Lead, consisted of Shai Brown, Owen Appleton, Annie Mbawo, Yaser Abdelaoui and Nathan Wakefield. Their customer focused solution was achieved through fantastic teamwork, collaboration and research resulting in a slick presentation to the Aviva judging panel.
Neil Baxter, Resource Strategy Lead, from Aviva said: “We were impressed with both their proposal of multivariant testing of the website which the team had designed, and with the quality of their presentation and their research skills. They looked at other industry sectors as well as other insurance companies to help formulate their ideas.”
Nathan Wakefield, UTCN Year 12 Student, said: “I found this experience with Aviva allowed me to get a better insight into the world of work and how teams operate in large businesses to find a solution to a difficult problem.”
Owen Appleton, UTCN Year 12 Student, said: “I found the Aviva Hackathon to be a great experience in which I enhanced my individual and team working skills. Home working on Microsoft Teams was a tough challenge, but through excellent team work we managed to pull through and work together as a team extremely well. Joanna, our Aviva mentor, had experience that taught the whole team a large amount and was a real eye opener to different career paths within Aviva.”
Shai Brown, UTCN Year 12 Student, said: “I used the Aviva Hackathon to my advantage to improve my team leading skills and team working skills. It was an amazing opportunity for all of us, as students, to see how large businesses are coping during the pandemic. Overall, this was very insightful and I know we all had a lot to take away from this challenge.”
Sophie Skipp, UTCN’s Employer Engagement Co-ordinator is full of praise for the outcome of the exercise, saying: “In all, 80 students and 12 Aviva employees were involved in the project. At UTCN we prepare our students for the working world. It’s in our DNA. When a business comes to us sharing how they have adapted their working practices from home it would be criminal not to mirror this in school.”
“These students can face their future employers in interviews with real experiences of collaborating online, just like their parents. The dedication and flexibility of all those involved in adapting to the current working environment is a fantastic example of the commitment to UTCN shown by members of our Industry Liaison Group.”

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