My second week at the Graduate Academy – A Guest Blog by Megan Jones
The journey back to Lampeter was a reunion in itself, as a few of us met up on the train to Carmarthen. We were then lucky enough to be picked up by two fellow members of the Graduate Academy and driven the rest of the way. The journey flew by and before we knew it we were all in the canteen eating our lunch.
Back in the training room, we were met by Janet George, one of the members of the GO Wales Professional Development team, who immediately threw us into an apprentice-style task. Our challenge was to develop a new brand of cereal, including the box design and advertising slogan, and present it to the class. The point was to utilise everyone’s strengths under the guidance of the project manager, and the birth of ‘Nutty Norman’ marked the exercise a success.
When the presentations were over, Janet took us through the nitty-gritty of making the most of our placements before releasing us early to unwind.
Sue Holder met us in the training room today for a crash course in marketing. It was really interesting looking at all the factors you need to take into consideration before developing a marketing strategy. Throughout the day we did a number of group presentations applying the recently learnt theory to case studies. She also talked us through the assessment criteria and how we could apply what we had been taught to the individual sections.
After dinner, a small group of us went for a wander around Lampeter in search of some munchies. It was really nice to wander down a high street and see small shops doing so well. What a quaint little place Lampeter is.
Awoke this morning to a thin layer of snow covering everything! It was exciting for about two seconds, until the fear set in. We were in the middle of nowhere and being stranded was a real possibility if it got any worse. Thankfully, it started raining before I headed out for breakfast and by first break it was all gone. Phew!
Jane Baker met us in the training room once more, this time to teach us about leadership styles. We looked at the variations which existed and how each of these impacted on work ethic and productivity in the office. We spent most of the afternoon filling out questionnaires and discovering our own leadership styles. It was a very eye-opening experience. It made me think a lot about how I interact with people and the changes I could make to get the best out of group work situations.
Dinner was beef curry, chips, rice and naan bread. As you can probably tell, the canteen is very fond of its carbs. So be prepared to loosen your belt buckles a little over the course of the Academy!
Following the Leader… to the Pub!
Today we furthered our understanding of leadership styles, and Jane talked us through our individual ‘leadership style’ reports. This module is very much related to self-awareness and how our personalities can impact our ability to effectively manage a situation. So it was a very fitting end to the module that we wrapped up the day assessing the positive and negative attributes of everyone in the group, and placing them anonymously in envelopes. I had to bite my tongue a little reading them back but being confronted with the truth is often the best way to move forward. There are definitely things that I need to work on, but that rang true for everyone and I think in the long run it will prove to be a very valuable exercise.
To celebrate our last night together, we all headed off campus to a folk night in a nearby pub. The place had a lively atmosphere, and we all had a giggle playing pool and a string of drinking games. It was so much fun hanging out in such a tight-knit group. I’m still struggling to get my head around the fact that we’ve only known each other for two weeks!
In the morning, we packed up the last of our things and headed back to the training room. We had a careers advice talk from Val, followed by an interesting insight into environmental sustainability and how this impacts your potential employers.
The day was wrapped up with a talk from Alex Davies, who told us about his time at a previous Graduate Academy and how it benefited him. It was really encouraging to see what a difference the whole experience made to his confidence and job prospects. Needless to say, it was a very uplifting end to the two weeks.
Then we all headed our separate ways, which was a lot more emotional than I expected. No one cried, but it felt pretty close as we all waved each other off in the car park.
On the upside, at least we all get to see each other again in a few weeks!
(So long as we survive our work placements…)