5 Questions with our YNAP Tech Graduate Program Alumni

April 2, 2019

Meet Sydney Smith, who is now a Product Owner here at YOOX NET-A-PORTER, having initially started her journey with us in 2017 as part of our YNAP Tech Graduate Programme. With applications for our 2019 intake to close next Tuesday, 9 April, Sydney answers five questions to give you an insight into what the program offers, how she progressed into her current permanent role, and what her favourite thing about working at YNAP is. 

How did you come to join our YNAP Tech Graduate Program?

I studied chemical engineering at Imperial College London but was not particularly interested in working in that field. However, I still found myself drawn to technology, or to things that gave me a technical challenge. One day I was searching the web for some career inspiration and I came across YOOX NET-A-PORTER’s graduate program. It immediately seemed like the perfect fit. I loved the company – as an avid consumer of online fashion content, NET-A-PORTER was a household name for me. E-commerce is special for me too. My mother is massively techy, she was probably one of the first people to shop online in the mid-90’s. Since then I have been fascinated by e-commerce, and I was really excited about the opportunity to work for a massively important and pioneering company like YOOX NET-A-PORTER. I didn’t necessarily know I wanted to be a Product Owner when I was applying, but I had some friends who were doing similar roles at other companies and from a little bit of questioning and a lot of research, I figured out the job was the right one for me and I haven’t looked back since.

Looking back on your time on the program, was there a particular project or opportunity that you really enjoyed?

I’ve enjoyed all of my different rotations and have had great managers along the way. They advised me on how to gain the experience I needed to progress, and guided me towards different Product Owner rotations that would allow me to practice different skills. Over the course of the Graduate Program, I worked on the homepage team, the commerce team and finally the apps team where I still work.

Tell us about your current role with the technology team and how you got there?

I joined the apps team as my final rotation of the Graduate Program, with the hope if I did well I could apply for a permanent role within it, and I did!

The idea of working holistically across the entire user experience was super appealing to me. I had gained experience working on different parts of the website in previous rotations, so I saw this as a smart step forward. With an app you work across the full customer journey, on everything from content, to product, to commerce. 

All the rotations reminded me of university. Years one, two and three have all these different modules and year four has a massive project that combines all of them into one. Completing the Graduate Program felt like I was getting those little blocks of knowledge that I needed to do the job I am in now as a Product Owner.

What would be your tip for those who are thinking of applying?

I knew YNAP was right for me because my personal values align with the values of the company. Sustainability is important to me, and I wanted to be part of a group that believes in it. 

Values can be overlooked when you are searching for a graduate job, but it pays off in the long run! Consume absolutely everything you can to understand the role and company better. Watch every video, read every news article, company report, anything you can get your hands on.

Once you understand the company better, you will know if the role is the right fit for you, and if you truly want to work there. When applying for graduate jobs, I did not apply to very many. I chose a few roles that seemed like the right fit, and put a lot of effort into each application.

What has been your favourite part of working here so far ?

My favorite thing about working here has been my managers, and all the mentors I have had. I have been really lucky, because through the program the teams here work really hard and smartly, to pair you up with suitable managers. I have been given a balance of guidance, and freedom to learn for myself, which is so supportive and motivating.

What would you say to other young women hoping to get into technology ?

I was listening to a podcast called Recode Decode the other day and the host, Kara Swisher, said she always got asked “how do we get more women into technology?” Her simple answer was “just hire them.” Coming from studying engineering, I actually found it refreshing when I arrived at YOOX NET-A-PORTER to a pretty well balanced tech team – my own one, for example, is 42% women.

So for women who are interested in getting into technology, just go for it! 

If you’re interested in joining our YNAP Tech Graduate Program, visit our careers page now!