Katy at London Borough of Barking and Dagenham

"My self-assurance has definitely grown over the course of this graduate programme."

Working at: London Borough of Barking and Dagenham

Studied: MA Geography at University of Edinburgh and MSc Urbanisation and Development at London School of Economics and Political Science

Advice: Don’t be scared to undertake a real range of placements. All three of my placements have been very different, which although has been challenging getting to grips quickly with different areas, this has allowed me to experience varied aspects of the council and deepen my knowledge immensely. For example, my second placement was in the council’s strategy and performance team and I was involved in driving our corporate agenda, while my third placement has been in a department called Community Solutions (the council’s front door) which has given me a unique insight in to more operational considerations. The graduate programme genuinely gives you a unique appreciation of all functions of local government.

How have you changed? My self-assurance has definitely grown over the course of this graduate programme. I previously felt apprehensive when contributing to meetings or putting forward ideas, however I have grown to learn that people value the fresh perspective of graduates. I have also improved my commercial awareness, knowledge of the challenges facing local government and problem solving skills.

Favourite projects: During my second placement in the Strategy and Performance team, I led on a piece of work called ‘State of the Borough’ which was our first annual update on progress towards targets and aspirations set out in Barking and Dagenham’s Borough Manifesto, our place based 20-year vision for the borough. This piece of work involved writing a report and organising a conference that facilitated this first update. I enjoyed this project as it relied on close collaboration with a number of key partners, as well as provided me with the opportunity to write speeches for the Chief Executive, Leader and briefing Members.

What about your development? Being a graduate on this scheme puts you in a unique position to take advantage of a whole host of activities for professional development. In all rotations, I have observed interesting meetings from Member Portfolios to departmental board meetings, and I have done a number of shadowing days. The ILM Level 7 Leadership and Management qualification that we do alongside the programme has taught me a lot – especially around emotional intelligence and change management, which I have been able to apply to my day to day work.