Earlier this year, I was awarded the Compass Hospitality Scholarship through the University of Hull - I was in fact the first Hull Computer Science student to be awarded the scholarship although the company does award scholarships to students from other universities around the world.
The Scholarship came with an internship placement which was due to last over the summer period, but when I arrived at Compass, albeit virtually considering I was working from home, the internship was not what I had originally been pitched. I talked this over with a few trusted people and decided to leave, about two weeks into the internship.
To give some background, Compass Hospitality are an international hotel management company with hotels in the UK, Thailand and Malaysia. In essence, the company oversees the day to day running of hotels and have multiple brands in their portfolio, including Best Western. This means, first and foremost that Compass are not a 'tech' company, their primary concern is providing hospitality. It wasn't a surprise therefore that there was a lack of standardisation between existing systems and a system that was supposed to be there was completely missing. Similarly, there were a fair few security holes and technical issues that the company needed to address.
To be clear: Compass don't retain the expertise to see these issues. Neither do many other companies around the world, whether large or small.
Alongside a lack of time to resolve the aforementioned issues, I also had interest in Parentull brewing in the background and coursework outstanding for university; so I left. But here's where it gets interesting, because you might imagine given all of the effort that went into organising the internship that Compass might have some sour grapes, but quite the contrary - and that brings us onto the first 'massive win'.
Massive Win 1: The Implementation of my Cyber Security Policies within an International Company
Prior to leaving Compass, I wrote a Cyber Security Policy document for them. The document was written so that executives, mid-level managers, hotel managers, cleaning/catering staff and everyone in between could understand the risks both to themselves, but also to the company should the risks presented not be mitigated and policies not implemented.
Whilst I obviously can't say to much about the risks, mitigations and policies presented, because that would give the right people clues as to what I proposed to the company, I can say very broadly that it entailed making sure that all levels of Compass staff knew that malicious attackers can be anyone, whether through the use of technology to manipulate existing systems or manipulating staff with the full array of human emotions - a technique called social engineering. Sidenote: If you want examples of this, I recommend looking at the JCS Criminal Psychology channel on Youtube.
What makes this a Massive Win is that the entire list of policies was reviewed and implemented by Compass Hospitality and I received a bonus for the work after leaving, retaining good relations with the company. Furthermore, this comes prior to even being awarded my degree (because I haven't graduated yet) so I believe it says quite a lot that international companies are confident enough in my advice to spend money to implement policies written by me.
Not that I'm tooting my own horn... alright, maybe a little bit.
Massive Win 2: Meeting with influential people about Parentull.
Bouncing from the Internship, I managed to arrange meetings with several people listed as Hulls Most Influential People of 2021 as well as several people not on the list, but I would argue should be. Naturally, it would be inappropriate to say who or what we have spoken about; but the point is that with a little politeness, kindness and sincerity; people will take an interest in your work. As such, I feel that Parentull is gaining some attention and whilst there are areas that need to be improved, I'm confident that if I keep pushing, Parentull will be successful in aiding families who cannot afford or access legal counsel.
To be clear, it's not the access to legal counsel that I'm trying to solve with Parentull, I'm trying to break the cycle of conflict. One might have thought that court would be there to solve these issues, however as of 2013 when LASPO was introduced, the playing field is no longer equal because legal aid was withdrawn unless domestic abuse had been alleged (I say alleged because the evidential criteria is very low, google "Trigger evidence LASPO"). Therefore, persons who do not qualify for legal aid and cannot afford a solicitor are left with two options: Pay for a solicitor or represent themselves.... Having experienced both of these situations, I can tell you the latter does not work very well and usually ends up in a tit-for-tat between parties whilst the District Judge tries to preside over the situation. If you can't see the obvious problem with that situation, try reading what a barrister has to say about it.
What makes this a massive win is that I'm able to put Parentull in front of people who can make decisions, have discussions and get real, raw feedback. Is Parentull a load of rubbish? It may very well be, so tell me and let me fix it.
Massive Win 3: I achieved the Hull Employability Award
The employability award is a scheme run by the University of Hull which describes itself as "Open to all current students of the University of Hull, on any programme and at any level. Students gain recognition for activities they have undertaken through their studies and beyond, and learn how to articulate their skills to potential employers through their CV, application form and at an interview".
In my case, I submitted:
- My CV for feedback
- Application question answers (250 words each)
- Evidenced 30+ hours of part time work with the University
- Evidenced my time as a student ambassador
- Evidenced contributions to a University club from 2017 - Present, including growing membership, organising hoodies, starting a resources list, completing design work, taking part in public speaking for the club and delivering presentations.
- Took part in a mock interview - where, I might add, I was praised for my genuine, warm and unique character.
I'm looking forward to posting more massive wins as I keep working towards my goals. I find posts like this such a boost to productivity because I'm able to reflect on what I've already achieved.