The NGDP has been a rollercoaster of learning, challenges and some emotion!
My first year was spent in the Chief Executive's department, working on several cross departmental projects at once. I very quickly had to build a sense of resilience and adaptability in order to get things done.
I was very lucky that one of my first projects was working in partnership with the local NHS Trust to help deliver their equalities objectives. Not only was I able to develop an understanding of how local government works with other public sector organisations but I quickly got to grips with the health world too. Local government is in a unique position to work across the public sector, and my placement really highlighted that. This offered me the unique opportunity to foster an appreciation of the strategic understanding of how services across the public sector work together. I was also exposed to different management styles and priorities that I otherwise would not have been.
My placement also gave me the chance to develop skills that will be essential to the rest of my career. One of the projects I was given was to commission a service putting employment coaches into GP surgeries. This meant understanding the market the current providers worked in, designing a specification and scoring the bids that came in. A lot of responsibility for a young graduate! The learning curve is steep in local government, but is also incredibly rewarding. I was able to use the teaching from my ILM on the relationship between the public and private sector when establishing the service with a private sector partner. And build on my previous NHS work whilst establishing relationships with local GP practices.
My council has been part of the NGDP for over 15 years, and there is a really strong internal graduate network scattered across various departments. This means that, in addition to my cohort I have really benefitted from the knowledge and experience of people who have been through the scheme. Having a strong commitment to the NGDP also means that graduates are respected and given great opportunities to develop and learn during their time on the scheme.
Being able to learn the theory of local government working and put it into to practice on a day to day basis has been a real advantage of the scheme. There are very few graduate schemes out there that can offer you real responsibility, learning and support at the same time – but the NGDP is definitely one of them.
The process may seem daunting at first but it is worth applying! As you go through the application process you will learn more about what local government does, and how it speaks to the values you hold.