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.
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.
The Scheme 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.
“What will you do if you aren’t offered a role on the Scheme?” 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 level it did, 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.
The Scheme 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.
✓ Funding, Graduation and Awards
✓ Planning Office
✓ Vice-Chancellor's Office