My first week at the Graduate Academy – A Guest Blog by Megan Jones
Our latest Guest Blogger is Swansea University Graduate Megan Jones who has recently attended the GO Wales Graduate Academy to increase her awareness of the business world. Megan has kept a diary of her experiences whilst on the course and here is the first blog post in the series…
Catch the train to Carmarthen, then the bus to Lampeter…
Arriving at Carmarthen a bit disoriented, I had to ask where the Number 40 bus would leave from. From the bus shelter across the road – duh! Minutes later I was sitting in said bus stop with my luggage, when I spotted an equally disoriented person with a suitcase, followed quickly by another. Both introduced themselves as fellow members of the Graduate Academy, and by the time the bus had arrived there were four of us. After an hour of hurtling through the countryside, we arrived in Lampeter and were pointed towards campus by the friendly bus driver.
We gathered in a lobby, our numbers ever-growing, until half-past twelve when we were ushered into the training room. Gwen Adams and Jane Burtenshaw-Jones, the programme coordinators, greeted us with smiles as we took our seats and helped ourselves to a buffet of sandwiches and sausage rolls.
When everyone had their fill, the formal introductions began. We were told the history of the university and the aims of the Graduate Academy, before being given a quick tour of the campus and attending a talk by the librarian. It had been a long morning after an early start and we were grateful when at last we were given our room keys. Our halls looked nice enough on the inside; kitted out with beech wood furniture and an en-suite bathroom.
I had a chance to unpack before heading down for dinner, where we were served pork and apple pie, and rice pudding for afters. We pulled two giant tables together to eat and continued getting to know each other, before heading back to the training room for some team-building games. Then we all headed off campus to the local pub quiz, feeling like we’d known each other a lifetime.
Early Start, Lots to Learn
Breakfast was served at 8.30am. It was a bit of a shock to the system, but we all made it down in time to shovel in some sausages and get to the training room for 9am. We were met by Jane Baker, one of the course tutors, who embarked on teaching us all we needed to know for ‘Understanding the Management Role to Improve Management Performance’. We learnt about managerial methods and the impact they have on a working environment, as well as the importance of communication (demonstrated by the ‘paper squares’ game). To everyone’s dismay, we were set homework; a presentation on communication theory. So after dinner we all made our way back to the training room. Thankfully, it didn’t take us too long and we were done and dusted by 8pm. After the day we’d had there was only one thing for it; a trip to the Student Union! Painted breeze-block walls and dodgy toilets welcomed us, but there were cheap drinks and a pool table. It was familiar territory from our undergraduate days and we merrily settled in for the night.
The Key To Communication
The morning opened with the presentations. Then we looked at communication barriers and the value of networking events. To reiterate her point, Jane made us play another game. This one involved using three pieces of pipe to get a ping-pong ball from one side of the room to another. It was equally fun and frustrating, especially when half the team was blindfolded for round two!
We spent the afternoon looking through the assessment criteria, before being released to relax and have dinner. Needless to say, after an eventful start to the week, we all had an early night.
The focus of today was a non-assessed look at some business basics. Coming from an arts background, I was incredibly grateful to be covering this area but also a little daunted. What if I couldn’t get my head around it? But I needn’t have worried, Sue Holder, another of the course tutors, made all the information highly digestible and by the end of the day we had covered business planning, VAT and lots of definitions of technical lingo. She even explained to us how it was possible for multinational organisations to legally tax-dodge in the UK, and I understood it!
After lunch, we consolidated our new knowledge in a group presentation exercise. Our challenge was to put together a business proposal and pitch it to the class. Everyone put their best foot forward and Sue was pleased with us. It was incredible the difference that the last few days had made to everyone’s confidence!
That night, we packed and then headed back to the SU for our final night out together.
Reaching Out To The World
After checking out of our rooms and lugging our stuff back to the training room, we were greeted by Rod Ashley. He gave us a crash course in CV dos and don’ts and even took the time to look at everyone’s CVs individually, which was very valuable to us all.
After lunch, we headed over to the computer room for another crash course; this time in professional social networking. Prior to the Graduate Academy, I had only used Facebook and had never seen much point in Twitter or LinkedIn. But Juliet Fay opened our eyes to their potential. Needless to say, I opened up a Twitter account there and then and officially posted my first tweet!
Find out about my second week in the next blog installment!
To apply for any upcoming Graduate Academy courses, apply via the GO Wales website http://www.gowales.co.uk/en/Graduate/graduateacademy