Sophie at London Borough of Barnet

If you are creative, fearless and want to make a real difference in your professional life, then I cannot imagine any better springboard than the NGDP.

I had high expectations of the NGDP, but nearly a year into the scheme, I can confidently say that my expectations have been fulfilled and surpassed.

Relocating to the UK for a job in local government might not seem the obvious choice for a languages graduate living, working and studying in Belgium. However, the NGDP presented me with an unparalleled opportunity. I wanted to see the impact of local public services first-hand and play a part in tailoring services to unique and evolving local communities. Given the monumental challenges facing the sector, innovative minds are prized, and I realised that as an NMT, I could nourish my creativity whilst making a difference to people's lives. Finally, I was positively overwhelmed by the wealth of experiences that I could gain within any one local authority – which other workplace offers such richness and diversity?

In October 2013 I took up my place as an NMT at the London Borough of Barnet. A transformative Business Growth project for West London was my first challenge and I worked alongside the Lead Commissioner for Regeneration and Enterprise. Highlights of the placement included co-ordinating with senior officers across six West London boroughs, consulting with diverse sub-regional stakeholders and authoring a business case that is being developed into an EU funding proposal. Moving to the Children's Service for my second placement, I consulted with staff and parents on the future of services for children aged 0-5 and I am now project managing part of a significant review of Early Years services.

Eye-opening, challenging and rewarding are words that sum up these placements. They have demonstrated to me just how human and life-changing decisions made by local government can be. My two line-managers have been inspiring women in senior roles, both of whom have assigned me a high degree of responsibility and colleagues have been unanimously supportive. I belong to a thriving network of young professionals at Barnet and I am proud to count myself as one of nearly 200 NMTs nationwide!

All NMTs complete a post-graduate diploma in leadership and management, and this opportunity has encouraged me to reflect on theory, best practice and my professional development. My future career plans are not set in stone, but I am convinced that there are a plethora of opportunities in local government for individuals with creativity, fearlessness and the desire to make a real difference to people's lives.

If this kind of career path appeals to you, then I cannot imagine any better springboard than the NGDP.