Hear from our trainees

Read the profiles of some of our Graduate Trainees and find out about why they joined the scheme and their experiences so far.

Amanda, Current Trainee

BA Classical Literature and Civilisation, MA Antiquity

When I started my first placement, the prospect of project managing part of a £2.7 million museum redevelopment seemed daunting but the support and guidance I had from a fantastic team gave me the confidence to succeed. The challenge turned into opportunity - to push my ability and develop my project management skills.

The opportunity to work with different funding bodies and partners has proved extremely useful for my further placements and has developed my confidence in interacting, and building relationships, with people at all levels.

amanda-portrait

Why I applied

After completing my masters, I was drawn to the idea of staying in Higher Education but I didn’t want to continue in an academic role. The Graduate Scheme presented a different way of engaging with the University from a professional point of view, and a way to see the wide variety of opportunities available in university management. Through the scheme I have been able to see some of the ‘behind-the-scenes’ roles at the University, learning how they operate and contribute to university life.

Highlights

A particular achievement has been leading the successful application of a £4.9 million research bid, knowing that I have contributed to the research impact of the University across the region. Being a part of the final phase of the redevelopment of the Lapworth Museum of Geology was also very rewarding. The museum has been a success story of the University’s public engagement and it is fantastic to see it now open to the public.

Every placement that I have had has been so different to the last which, although challenging, is great because it develops your skill set.

Development

We are really lucky with the opportunities that we have. There are so many experiences across the University outside of our placements; attending events, meeting senior directors, work shadowing and training courses. We are encouraged to broaden our horizons – it is a really privileged position to be in.

Placements so far:

Lapworth Museum of Geology redevelopment
Research and Innovation Services
Vice Chancellor’s Office
International Relations

Anna, Current Trainee

BA English, MA Medieval and Renaissance Literary Studies

I came across the scheme by chance while studying for my masters in Durham. I was an executive committee member of the Middle Common Room which had given me some experience of university operations on a smaller scale; working with a budget, organising events and raising the profile of the postgraduate community. I was drawn to the Graduate Scheme because of the range of placements and opportunities that it offered.

anna-portraitAmbitions

The scheme offers a really good basis for developing a career in Higher Education. Being able to experience different departments and work on such a range of projects gives you great exposure to a variety of roles. This was really useful for me as it helped me to decide what areas I would like to work in longer term.

Higher Education is a fast paced and changing environment especially given the effects of external factors such as politics and funding. This makes it an exciting place to work and I have enjoyed the new challenges that the changing environment has provided.

Development

The Graduate Scheme offers a wide range of development opportunities including mentoring and coaching. I have found this really useful at this stage in my career. There are always challenges and it has been fantastic to have the opportunities to talk through these with others who have more experience than you.

Highlights

I have really enjoyed being part of a strong cohort. This has enabled me to build connections (and friendships!) easily and provides a network of professional contacts across the institution.

I have also been lucky enough to have opportunities to travel and see new places. This international experience has allowed me to work with different cultures and experience working with other organisations within the UK and abroad.

The Graduate Scheme will consistently challenge you and provide opportunities for progression and development. This has made it a very rewarding two years.

Placements so far:

College of Medical and Dental Sciences
Business Engagement / Research Support
NHS Leadership Academy
International Relations

Tom, Current Trainee

MSci Physics and Astrophysics

Although I did an undergraduate degree in physics, I decided to do something more business focused after I graduated. I first learned about the scheme when I worked part-time for the University during my degree. It seemed like a great opportunity with the variety of placements on offer and I strongly believe in the aims of the University - educating the next generation and delivering research with far-reaching impact.

tom-portraitApplying for the scheme

I initially worried that you would need to be an expert in Higher Education, but that isn’t the point of the scheme. They aim to train you up, so you don’t have to know everything when you begin. They are looking for potential over expertise.

I came from a science background and the analytical skills I developed in my degree have been very useful. I’m able to offer a different perspective and it really helps to have an eye for innovation and openness to technology.

Highlights

My work on the #wearebrumalum marketing campaign stands out for me; it had a real life result and seeing it come to life was a very proud moment. To deliver something from concept, through delivery, to fruition with a lot of engagement from across departments was a highlight. I saw how bringing people together from various departments led to a solution that produced strong results and created something of value for the whole organisation.

Ambitions

When I joined the Graduate Scheme, I wanted to learn more about the business world after my science degree. I knew that the variety of the scheme - working in different departments and on assorted projects – would help me to develop an array of skills.

Being exposed to the wider University has changed my ambitions; I have seen things from different angles, and I’m more open to different careers and opportunities. This is a definite advantage of the scheme.

Placements so far:

Marketing
Legal Services
Business Engagement
Strategic Planning

Chloe, Current trainee 

BA Music, MA Musicology

When I was reflecting on career opportunities toward the end of my undergraduate degree at Cambridge, I kept returning to one thought: how much I had enjoyed the culture at the University of Birmingham while I had worked here as a temp a few years earlier. That thought led me to discover the Graduate Management Training Scheme through some internet searching. When I read the job description, it became apparent that the opportunities to develop were more suited to me than I imagined a job at the University could be.

chloe-portraitCareer development

Although I was confident that I was a good fit for the University, I couldn’t make myself settle on an area to work in. Because of this, the placement structure of the scheme was spot on. It is a privilege to have an opportunity to work across the University, gaining first hand of experience of the style of work, the cultures and the skills sets of the various divisions and teams. And now that I am at the other end of the scheme, I have a much clear picture of what I value I can add to roles across the University, which has helped my longer-term career development.

Mentoring

The GTMS provides access to mentoring from the most senior levels of the University. I found this to be one of the most formational aspects of the scheme. Having the opportunity to talk personally to inspirational leaders accelerated my learning curve enormously. Regular meetings with my mentor helped me to understand better what the scheme meant for me, to reflect on what my own learning points were, and also what sort of leader I can be.

Development

“What will you do if you aren’t offered a role on the GTMS?” That was a question that a Senior Officer asked me in my first interview. I vividly remember explaining that the only other option for me was to work my way up through the various grades of the University structure. My Plan B made me all the more grateful that Plan A put me in to the University at the Academic-Related level, accelerating my development at a rate that matched my appetite. Of course, taking this approach needs tenacity and determination; it could be easy to shy away from challenges. Yet, it is the challenges that are the real opportunities and the most impactful and long term learning experiences.

Best advice

The GTMS provides a wealth of experiences and opportunities, and over a relatively short space of time too. If I could give the Graduate Trainee version of me a piece of advice, it would be to seize the opportunities there and then, the ones that are right in front of me. It is a once-in-a-career opportunity to have such broad experiences over such a short period of time, and a situation to be relished.

Placements so far:

Funding, Graduation and Awards
Planning Office
Vice-Chancellor's Office
 Academic Services Project Officer, Programme Manager, Collaborative Teaching Lab project (current role)

Dilveena, former trainee, 2014

BSc Mathematics

I applied to be a Graduate Trainee due to the variety it offered of working in different teams across the University, the chance to train in leadership and to increase my understanding of the Higher Education sector. I really enjoyed seeing the ‘behind the scenes view’ of the University I studied at for three years and wanted to make a difference to enhancing the student experience.

dilveena-portraitThe scheme

I really valued the freedom and opportunities to engage with colleagues across the University whilst on my placements. The most important thing I gained from the scheme was taking advantage of every opportunity and learning how to contribute and implement ideas effectively.

From working in different teams, I have a much broader outlook and quickly understand how a team sits within the organisation. With each placement I aimed to make a positive contribution and to work beyond the brief to benefit the department and my professional development.

Throughout the scheme you have the chance to present at the end of each placement to senior management. Although this was daunting at first, it aided my confidence and I now feel more comfortable presenting on a regular basis in my current role.

My mentoring experience was a great additional support network. Being mentored by a senior director at the University was a useful way to seek feedback and reflect on my experiences. It helped me to explore the different routes to take after the scheme and to transition into a permanent role.

Challenges

My first placement was a steep learning curve, where I was working on three projects simultaneously. My manager gave me useful advice from the offset to prioritise work load according to the project stage and this helped to successfully complete the placement. With all of my placements I learned how to deal effectively with challenging situations, particularly with external parties and working with them to collectively reach a solution.

Highlights

It has been a really rewarding experience to enter a team for four months, work with colleagues on projects and know that when you move on, you’ve made a difference. I have built a variety of networks of colleagues that I am still in contact with, which shows the value that the scheme can bring and the long term impact it can have on my development.

Placements so far:

Academic Services
College of Medical and Dental Sciences
MArketing, College of Social Sciences
Mentoring Development Officer, Careers Network (current role)