My experience at the Graduate Academy

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By Gareth Booy

Since graduating from University I have struggled to find full time employment, I kept applying for loads of different jobs and kept getting rejected. I wanted to go on a course that would help me sell myself better and make me become more employable. I came across the GO Wales Graduate Academy programme and thought this would be very helpful for me so I applied for it and got accepted to participate.

The Graduate Academy is a six week programme which is completely free; the main aims for the programme are to help get graduates into employment, work towards a qualification awarded by ILM (Level 4), increase confidence and motivation, to develop new skills, and gain work experience in an area that interests you. You also get expert advice off experienced tutors and professionals.

The whole programme is unbelievably so well planned and organised, you are really well looked after and taken care of. The coordinators who are responsible for the programme are really lovely and supportive and pay attention to detail. If there are any problems, which I would be amazed if there was, they would be very willing to help solve any problems that arise.

The first two weeks are spent in Lampeter at the University of Wales Trinity Saint David. Accommodation is provided where you are allowed to stay on campus which is also completely free. Furthermore, food is also provided at the University canteen whereby you can have breakfast, lunch and an evening meal every day. Travel costs to get to and from Lampeter up to £100 will also be covered by the programme. The two weeks are quite intensive as you work towards a Leadership & Management qualification awarded by ILM which is worth around £2,500 and all of the sessions are delivered by experienced tutors and managers. In total, three assignments have to be submitted shortly after the six weeks are over. You will have access to the library; IT and other study facilities on campus, even if you have not studied at the University before. The course timetable follows a typical working week (Monday-Friday, 9am-5pm).

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Assessed ILM units cover:

  • Understanding the management role to improve management performance
  • Developing your leadership styles
  • Understanding the importance of marketing for an organisation

Non-assessed sessions cover:

  • Principles of business planning and financial management
  • Preparation for work experience
  • Employability skills development
  • Career planning, self-marketing and job search support

The things you learn in the two weeks are invaluable; you learn so much in a short space of time and they definitely make you feel more motivated and confident. The tutors have a wealth of knowledge and experience that they are willing to share and it is also a great way of meeting new people especially as most of the participants are in the same boat and have struggled to find long term full time employment.

After the two weeks in Lampeter you start work experience in a location which suits you and lasts for three and a half weeks. Whilst on your work placement you get paid a training subsidy and up to £100 towards travel expenses. During your work placement you are expected to gather work based evidence to use for the assignments,  and tutorial support will be available throughout the programme.

Once the work placement has finished you are expected to attend a two day final conference in Lampeter. The conference is designed for all the participants to meet up again and de-brief the programme. It is a great way of reviewing the work experience, getting more advice on what happens after the programme and how to take the momentum and move forward. The assignment submission dates follow soon after the final conference and the end of the six-week course.

I have definitely learnt a lot from Graduate Academy, the whole experience has been extremely beneficial. I know that I can now move forward and I feel more confident of finding long term full time employment which is my ultimate goal. The Graduate Academy helps prepare you to work, as well as receiving CV and application advice you also learn to sell yourself better and make yourself more employable. I would definitely recommend Graduate Academy; it is a great opportunity that should not be missed!