My Year of GO Wales experiences!
By Dan Seymour
After graduating with a History BA from Lancaster University I was unsure what to do next, so like a lot of people I went back as a postgraduate. Upon returning to Wales in 2011 I found it difficult to find work, or even know what to apply for with my largely academic background. I’d only ever worked in retail or on my parents farm, and making the transition to office work was proving difficult. “Office experience” was what I lacked, so I began researching work experience opportunities, and the GO Wales Graduate Academy caught my eye. I realised what a valuable opportunity the Graduate Academy was, so when offered a place on the February 2012 programme I quit my job at Matalan there and then.
After two enjoyable weeks studying in Lampeter I started a four-week placement with a charitable organisation in Carmarthen – Sazani Associates. Here, as a researcher for an educational resource pack on sustainable development I gained valuable office experience, represented the company at Careers Fairs, and was able to apply the theory that we had learned in Lampeter. After successfully completing the Graduate Academy I was able to gain office temping roles but still kept an eye out for GO Wales placements.
In August 2012 I interviewed and was accepted on a placement with Carmarthenshire County Council. This was a fantastic opportunity to grow and develop my research skills as the placement involved analysing data, writing surveys, and even interviewing people. I worked closely with the Learning & Development Team, who not only supported me in developing areas such as report writing and interviewing techniques, but also allowed me a huge level of responsibility over the project as a whole. During this placement I also applied and was accepted on the ECTARC Leonardo da Vinci Programme to go to Florence, Italy.
This programme, funded in much the same way as GO Wales, is designed for graduates who want to live and gain work experience abroad. With various possible destinations, I picked Florence as I had studied a lot of Italian history at University and had a little tuition in Italian then. I also relied heavily on my history background with the work placement preferences I gave, and as a result ended up working in the State Archive, restoring medieval and renaissance manuscripts and documents. Whilst probably not the most strategic career step ever, this experience as a whole was breathtaking and honestly one of the greatest experiences of my life. Our Italian teachers were a pleasure to learn from, the people I worked with at the Archive some of the most genuine and charming I know, and of the other participants I know I have friends for life.
Where previous work experiences have added to my CV, I know that living and working in Italy has added to my confidence and my character. For starters no interview in the UK will ever feel awkward compared with my interview at the archive where I couldn’t speak Italian and the Director couldn’t (or wouldn’t?) speak English!
Returning to the UK, and applying / interviewing for jobs, I have so much more experience to draw upon thanks to GO Wales. I cannot rate highly enough the work that these good people do, sourcing quality experiences for graduates across every field imaginable. I am currently working for Vodafone as an Analyst, a position I am certain I owe to GO Wales and to the people who accepted me onto the Graduate Academy way back in January 2012. For me it has been more than a year of GO Wales experiences but they have got me where I need to be.