Computing students get to test their industry ability with Barclaycard challenge

Date 11.03.2021

Tech-savvy students were given a taste of the real world after rising to the challenge of implementing an e-commerce set up for a traditional high-street business.

Northampton-based Barclaycard challenged 25 Computing students to bring a fictional chain of hairdressing salons up to date, by developing a bespoke e-commerce system for the business.

Students needed to design a fully costed system that included a suite of integrated websites and allowed online booking and purchasing, plus stock tracking. The system also had to incorporate Barclaycard payment technologies.

The students, who were split into five working groups, had just two days to devise their strategy before presenting it, their prototype software, to a judging panel of three senior Barclaycard managers. This was the first time, in the annual challenge’s six-year history, that presentations were made online, due to the pandemic.

Mark Johnson, Deputy Head of Computing, said: “The challenge dramatically increases the confidence of our students, especially those without previous IT work experience, as it gives them a taste of an industry-level problem.

“They also enhance their interpersonal skills, teamwork and formal presentation skills, which are particularly valuable for forthcoming employment applications, especially where the application process includes assessment centre work and candidate presentations.

“The challenge also allows the students to gain valuable feedback on their performance in all aspects of their skill set from senior experience professionals, again enhancing the student’s confidence and skills prior to applying for graduate employment.

“I want to thank Barclaycard’s James Rowell and his colleagues for making this event possible, each year. It really is an amazing opportunity for students to gain several significant benefits prior to embarking on their formal careers post-university.”

Student, Adriana Ionel, said: “I was so afraid for years to take on the role of a team leader, even if I wanted to try it, and all I can say now is that I was so glad I was chosen to be one for the challenge, and I had such a great time. The challenge really simulates a real job experience which we all need.”

Coursemate, Dmitrijs Galajs, said: “It was a real challenge. However, as soon as I got over the stress, it was actually very enjoyable.

“There was a lot of pressure, but I think if I was to summarise, I would say it was a great experience that’s given me confidence moving forward in my career.”

James Rowell, Head of Partner Solution Delivery at Barclaycard, said: “It was truly inspiring to work alongside the students. The end result of their hard work far exceeded expectations. This was the first time many of them were working together: they were able to rapidly form a dynamic team and thrive in a very high pressure environment. The teamwork and collaboration, coupled with the drive to succeed, is on par with what I observe in the workplace on a daily basis.”