02 July 2021

Project Zeta!


I am studying Level 3 BTEC Diploma in IT. This means that I get to experience many different IT sectors such as programming, game design, animation and more. However, BTECs are more designed towards practical work and therefore having work experience alongside a course is a very big plus for your personal statements or CVs. This year, the college partnered with Career Colleges to work on a digital project sponsored by many industry giants. I will be telling you about my experiences with Career Colleges as well as our solution to a brief – Project Zeta.


First, who and what is Career Colleges? The Career Colleges Trust is a charity with a simple goal in mind – to support students into great careers. They manage to achieve this by bringing employers and education providers together to give us the skills, knowledge, and experience to succeed in the real-life world of work. Career Colleges does not just focus on IT, they also specialise in other professions such as Business. They train students via a project-based approach where the same brief is given out to students working in groups as well as other colleges. It is a competition between not only multiple groups of students but multiple colleges as well across the entirety of the UK.

Sadly, most of what we did with Career Colleges had to be online because of the unfortunate circumstances that we had to face during the second and third national lockdown. This included all our workshops and most of our meetings.

My Experience with Career Colleges:

As a Career Colleges student who took up the project this year (2021), we have undergone multiple workshops to ensure we deliver a great solution to match our brief. We had a detailed timetable of when our workshops, meetings and any other events would happen.

During Phase 1 of the project, we met the Career Colleges representative – Julia Von Klonowski. She briefed us on what our brief would be for our project. The idea was to work out a solution to the brief, and as this was a competition, we went head-to-head against other groups and other colleges. We were also made aware that our panel of judges consisted of industry giants; Career Colleges, Amazon Web Services, the BBC, HSBC, Barnardo’s, Prince’s Trust, Lord’s (the home of cricket), London Sport, UK Active and The Metropolitan Police. Now that we knew that we had to impress 10 judges all from different companies, we had to think of an idea to please everyone, which was no easy task.

We were given time to brainstorm names, ideas, and smaller attributes such as what will it be – a website, an app or perhaps a physical product? We thought very hard about our idea and presented it. In our Phase 1 presentation, we talked about the current ideas. We started off by talking about the general idea we had of our app, and why we specifically chose to go about it this way, we also featured a very early design concept and how we stay productive as a team. Next, we talked about our future plan and what we plan to implement and how we would envision the launch of our app. Finally, we discussed statistics, do we expect this idea to work? Will we be successful?

Now onto the training, we first started off with a Goal Mapping workshop, the idea behind it is, how we get from point A to point B? How can we effectively plan our future? Our next workshop was about Personal Branding – simply put, how we can look favourable to employers and how to leave behind a positive image of ourselves. After that, we had a Product Design workshop which was all about looking at many popular and already-existing products and understanding why they are liked. Finally, we had a Digital Marketing workshop that taught us how to promote a product. All these workshops were meant for both personal and professional uses, and all of them were very helpful towards what we could do with our solutions to improve them.

Phase 2 was all about starting to develop our projects. Two groups from Palmer’s and one group from Seevic had been chosen to take part in the next stage of the project. This was also the starting point where many of the Phase 2 finalists began to undertake training through workshops with a variety of companies. This was also the time to start thinking about how to collaborate effectively and consider what the members of your team are good at and how to use their strengths to your advantage. Therefore, we came up with a system where everyone could be involved and have a part to play that would help us. I was the Project Manager / Organiser. We also had a Head of Design, Head Programmer, as well as an R&D team as an extra workforce. We came up with a creative tag line for our group, “Team of six, workforce of seven”. In our Phase 2 presentation, we decided to split up our talking points equally, so we had six main topics to discuss – About the Project, Source of Motivation, Design Insight, Sneak Peak, Collaborative Technologies, and Sponsor Input.

There have also been a few Project Management meetings with Julia to discuss our solutions – eventually, we would have to present our solutions to our judges, and they would give their opinions on it. Our final presentations were supposed to take place in the Amazon Offices in Shoreditch, however, due to the rising cases as of July 2021, we could not go. As a result, we recorded our final presentation in the Immersive Room and sent it off to the judges to start picking a winner before the rewards ceremony. On the 24 June, ‘Team Zeta’ gathered one final time with the other colleges and all together, we watched the rewards ceremony. As a team, we won the reward for the ‘Best Run Project’, and I personally won the ‘USP Career College Student of the Year’ award. It was a hard-fought victory, but one that I can say I am very proud of. Not knowing what the other colleges were working on added to the difficulty because you didn’t know who you were up against and what they were capable of.

Overall, I am very pleased with this project. It taught me how to be a strong leader and how to maximise efficiency by acknowledging our team strengths and weaknesses.


What is Project Zeta?

From the very beginning of the project, we were given a brief to read and work out a solution for it.

"Use the positive power of technology to promote an understanding of the mental and physical effects of COVID-19 on your age group and how it impacts your concerns about your future. Promote solutions to these issues in relation to your age group and the community." – The Brief.

In groups of our choice, we were tasked with an assignment that could put us in an incredibly advantageous position for the future. Our response to this assignment is Project Zeta. As a team, we envisioned an app that is more than just social media. It brings people together and rebuilds the devastation the pandemic has dealt to communication.

"Our app is designed to help students feel like part of a community, although we can’t go out to parties and events. This app will make it so that people can set up events for themselves and others, whether these events are for socializing or educational purposes. This will help people feel they aren’t alone and that others are experiencing them as well." – Us, Team Zeta.

But what is Project Zeta? As a team, we wanted to create an app that is restricted only to people of our age group. Our app was made entirely with youth in mind. In the app, we wanted all our judges and, potentially in the future, anyone to be able to create an event to participate in. We had plans to include a tag system to search for specific events, whether they are games, hobbies or if you just needed someone to talk to. Our entire panel of judges would also be able to post events under their names for any workshops, events, or even employment/voluntary services they would like to advertise. Of course, as college students, we would not be able to have a fully completed application, but it is always great to have a direct idea of what you want.

We understood that a huge number of people did not take the pandemic well, and their mental health was the reason their motivation dropped before starting the next chapter of their education. In a previous blog of mine, I talked about how I took advantage of all the time we had off to better myself physically and mentally. The only issue is that if you wish to change something about yourself, it is very challenging to muster the courage to act. That is why we took that into consideration, and therefore we wanted to create the perfect application that allows people of our age to make friends, fight boredom and get support where needed. Nothing is more important than your very own wellbeing.