#AfGShireland: Apps for Good’s adventures in Smethwick.

Still buzzing from the highs of the first Apps for Good Regional Event at Elstree UTC, the Apps for Good team set off from Euston station bright and early on a sunny Tuesday morning to catch a train to Birmingham. We travelled to Shireland Collegiate Academy in the West Midlands for the second ever Apps for Good Regional Event, which was run in partnership with QA.

Students spent the morning making final preparations in their teams for the Dragons’ Den pitching session which was due to take place later that day. Before the Dragons’ Den session began, however, our friends at QA stepped in to lead a workshop which encouraged students to think about effective communication and teamwork.

Shireland. QA workshop

Shireland students talk to their team mates about their pitching strategy

 

During the workshop students took part in a number of role-playing activities which enabled them to get a better understanding of how to speak to different audiences (i.e. relatives, employers and friends), and which underlined the importance of speaking clearly and listening attentively.

Workshop photo

Shireland students take part in a QA-led workshop

 

When we kicked off the pitching session it was clear to see that all of the student teams had worked extremely hard on their ideas and had done a lot of research.  They were incredibly keen to sell their app ideas to the judges as best they could and were very confident when doing so.

The judges were treated to presentations about a number of different app ideas. These included an app which helps people to remember upcoming birthdays and buy last minute presents, an app which helps students to overcome shyness through encouraging them to exercise and perfect their drama and theatre skills, and an app which helps students to overcome anxiety by enabling them to access support groups. Student teams took turns to pitch their app ideas to the judges before getting the opportunity to answer a few questions on their target markets, market research and competitors.

 

Dragons Den. 2

Students pitch their app idea to the judges

 

Dragons Den. 3

Dragons Den. 4

 

After listening to eight student teams speak passionately about the apps that they had been tirelessly working on for months the judges were then tasked with reviewing all of the app ideas and picking just one winner.

While they were waiting to hear the results of the Dragon’s Den pitching session, students heard from Matt Young, a former QA apprentice who now works as a Sales Manager for Twin Systems, who gave them an enlightening talk about his experience as an apprentice and how QA helped him to carve out a career for himself.

Matt told students at Shireland about how he was unsure about what he wanted to do when he was 16, but that after embarking on an apprenticeship with QA he found his true calling in IT. His message to the students was to persevere, to find a job which is fulfilling and to work for a company which invests in them.

 

Shireland. QA - Matt talk 2

Matt Young (far-left) speaks to students about his experience as an apprentice

Shortly thereafter the judges announced the winning team who eagerly rushed onto the staged to receive their prizes.

Shireland. Photo of winning team

The winning Shireland team with the judging panel

 

Students left the event with a lot of food for thought on how to improve their app ideas and were more eager than ever to complete their entries for the 2017 Apps for Good Awards.

After bidding farewell to the students and teachers at Shireland we packed up and set off towards Birmingham New Street station, already thinking about our next Apps for Good adventure!