In February, the Young Professionals’ Challenge saw Sixth Form pupils working with international professional services and accounting firm Grant Thornton over a period of three days, networking on the front lines of their prestigious #VibrantSheffield Live! event.

The Young Professionals’ Challenges give pupils the opportunity to take their first steps into the world of business, working directly with local companies that have a city-wide and even nation-wide impact with their work. Some of the companies the girls have collaborated with so far this year include property and construction company Henry Boot, and international law firm CMS.

The annual #VibrantSheffield Live! event aims to promote the vibrant economy of the Sheffield city and region by showcasing fresh, innovative organisations of all sizes at The Crucible theatre. Sheffield Girls’ were fortunate enough to partner with Grant Thornton for the Young Professionals Challenge, where the company asked the girls to help with the crucial task of gathering feedback at the event.

The first day of the challenge was spent learning about the background of Grant Thornton as a company with a vision to shape a diverse, dynamic economy, as well as pupils planning how to tackle the project and gain an accurate view of what impact the event has. Grant Thornton took a particular interest in seeing whether the event changed people’s perceptions or made any new collaborations, in addition to gauging the overall opinion of how innovative the Sheffield region is.

On the day, the girls were confident and composed in questioning delegates before and after the event. It was an excellent opportunity for developing networking skills: as networking is one of the most important aspects of being successful in a modern business, having guidance from Grant Thornton and a chance to practise was a key advantage for pupils before they step into the world of work.

The girls presented their findings at the third session, to Paul Houghton, leader of the firm’s Sheffield office, and the rest of the team. The feedback triggered lots of discussion and debate, and Grant Thornton will take the advice given by the Sixth Form group forward for next year’s event.

Izzy said, “We thought working with Grant Thornton was really valuable, and there was a lot of new and interesting ideas at #VibrantSheffield Live! that we’d never thought of before.”

“It was really eye opening to hear about things that I never even knew were happening in Sheffield,” agreed Flo.