Debut’s freshest careers event yet: Real Talk

In October we collaborated with ERIC Festival to put on Debut Real Talk: two nights of events like nothing we'd ever done before.
Avantika Vaishnav
Avantika Vaishnav

What do you get when you add together five inspirational speakers, three motivational employers, two enthusiastic event organisers, one hilarious host, one kick-ass venue and a whole bunch of amazing students and graduates? It can only be  Debut Real Talk of course!

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October saw Debut host an event unlike any other that had been before. In collaboration with ERIC Festival, we took the message of uncertainty around graduate jobs, and embarked on a journey to build the confidence of attendees. We provided a platform for attendees to listen to inspirational stories from guests like Emma Rosen, take part in engaging activities from Smarty Train and enjoy a little splash of networking from employers EY, Vodafone and Gowling. No matter where they were in the job search, everyone was welcome.

If you didn’t manage to come along, here’s a summary of what went down on both nights.

Advice on working life

We all hear about employability when it comes to grad jobs. But what can graduates actually expect to see in the workplace, especially when it comes to day-to-day issues? Real Talk covered that, and then some. On night one, we saw Rose Scanlon-Jones from Sanctus – a company dedicated to mental health in the workplace – take to the stage.

She gave some invaluable advice on what graduates should be looking for in companies when it comes to mental health. This is a topic that we feel strongly about, especially since discovering that  70%  of graduates feel insecure about telling their employers about their mental health. We need to kick the stigma, and Rose voiced that perfectly.

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Emma Rosen – author, speaker and writer – also shared her own personal views on the value of work experience, discussing her extraordinary tale of 25 before 25. We learnt that really the sky’s the limit when it comes to trying out new careers, and you shouldn’t feel the need to lock yourself into one role. Portfolio careers can change the way we work, and we’ll have more on that to come soon…

Personal branding

With the stigma around ‘narcissistic Millennials’, grads are often discouraged from shouting about their achievements to the rest of the world. However, Real Talk flipped those assumptions upside down, demonstrating the value of self-promotion. Especially when speaker Stef Sword-Williams shared the content of her own platform, F*ck Being Humble.

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Through a nineties R&B inspired playlist (and let’s face it, who doesn’t want that?!) Stef discussed the questions that we should be asking ourselves when it comes to our careers. By doing so, we can take our professional successes and use them to leverage future opportunities. 

Also at the event were the career expects from Smarty Train. Jide Fadojutimi and Lee Warren hosted a workshop each, discussing the subjects of personal branding and networking.  Many attendees praised the attention to these valued subjects at Real Talk, and we’re glad that we’re bringing in a fresh outlook to the career space. 

Career quizzing

It wasn’t just our speakers that got up in front of our student crowd! Three employer giants came along to Real Talk on our second night for a number of activities. These were EY, Gowling and Vodafone, and they all played a pivotal role in our event.

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Our employers each showcased a brief glimpse into graduate working life, and offered audience members the chance to have an honest Q&A session about these roles. Questions that were asked included the qualities that they looked for in applicants, what the company culture was like and more. It was a refreshing discussion to see!

Our students also got to put their newly-found networking skills into action throughout the night at our employer stands in the foyer. Offering students the chance to speak to employers on a one-to-one basis is a staple of Debut events, so we were glad to bring it back for another spin. 

An awesome environment

All the guests and speakers are of course awesome, but the event wouldn’t be anything without the environment. Islington Metal Works was our venue, and it was the perfect blend of artsy and grungy and made a wonderful setting for Real Talk. We had food and drink for attendees all night, as well as freebies and goodies from our employers for students to take away.

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No great event is complete without a great host. Real Talk was presented by the bubbly Jodie McCallum, who kept all the guests and crowd laughing throughout the evening. She also took over our Instagram story on the night, and kept us entertained with her brilliant live-tweeting of the antics of the evening.

In summary, Real Talk wasn’t just about the speakers, or the employers, or even the free bar (although that is a big bonus of course). All these factors together resulted in an entertaining, informative and unique night that gave a fresh outlook on graduate careers. And guess what? We’re just getting started.

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