Rebecca at London Borough of Brent

I joined the NGDP and began working at the London Borough of Brent in September 2014. I was very excited to be able to make an impact and so far the NGDP has lived up to my expectations.

My first placement was in the safeguarding team within Children and Young People. This proved to be very interesting as I was able to see the issues facing Brent's children from a strategic point of view. One of my main tasks involved preparing for an Ofsted inspection which allowed me to gain an overview of the whole department. I also worked on a missing children project, which is a prevalent issue facing Brent and allowed me to see how this is related to wider issues surrounding deprivation in different ethnic groups.

I worked in the Leader's Office for two months which gave me high-level exposure to the political environment in the council and see how the council operates. I worked directly with elected members - I undertook research on social isolation to assist the deputy leader with preparation for the public health board. I shadowed meetings the deputy leader had with residents which allowed me to understand the issues which they faced. I was in an extremely privileged position and had access to confidential information.

A great opportunity came up in HR whereby I would be able to maximise my policy and research skills. I was able to get involved with many different aspects, which opened my eyes up to the various services. I helped out with many HR events including wellfair day, an apprentice event and Macmillan coffee morning.

I am also going to volunteer at the staff awards and black history month. These events helped to build my confidence and interpersonal skills, which will help to aid me in my career.  Shadowing interviews and assisting with the shortlisting for apprenticeship recruitment, provided me with a great insight in recruitment processes. I managed the preparation for the evidence base for the Investors in people Gold accreditation, alongside other team members. This involved working in an extremely fast-paced and high-pressured environment, as well as team work.  This provided me with valuable skills as it was very challenging.

I was able to improve my personal resilience skills and juggle competing demands. I had to cope with changing circumstances and use critical thinking skills to establish how best to present the evidence. It was important to constantly change how I went about presenting the evidence - I was able to deal with this under very strict time pressures.  The policies I wrote and my work assisting with preparing for the excellence award for the healthy workplace charter also provided a great learning opportunity. I went to external steering group meetings, whereby I was able to network with health leads from other authorities as well as representatives from public health England. I would not have this exposure had it not been for the NGDP. I was able to see how issues affecting residents may also impact on staff, particularly as many of them are also residents or live nearby. I raised my profile across the organisation due to my involvement at events and attendance at IIP, staff award and healthy workplace charter project meetings which involved input from other departments, including the senior directors and the Chief Operating Officer.

The internal and external learning and development is great - I have access to a senior director as a mentor and buddy from the year above. I am prince2 certified and have also done various training courses, including in influencing skills and presenting. I have access to a national network of graduates, and am able to share ideas at the NGDP residentials and in my action learning sets. I have also been to public bubble events which represents collaboration between public sector graduates. This includes a management stimulation event with Breckland training which was fantastic! I am really lucky that the NGDP has given me the exposure which I would not get in other schemes.

At the moment I am not set on a concrete career path. I do wish to use the project management and policy skills I established on the scheme, as I believe this is where my strengths lie. I have an interest in health and had the opportunity to exercise this throughout my year on the NGDP, through the work for the deputy leader, my work in CYP, involvement in HR events and the healthy workplace charter. My next placement will be in public health. However, I am open to embracing many different opportunities.  I believe that the NGDP has prepared me for any career due to the exposure I gained through working in different services, as well as the opportunities provided by the LGA. I would like to stay in local government – it is very rewarding to be able to make a difference at a local level. I am very excited to see what the next year on the NGDP holds for me.

I would definitely recommend the NGDP – it is a tricky and lengthy application process; however it is a fantastic scheme. I would advise anyone applying to do their research into the different levels of local government and really understand why they want to work in the sector.