Graduate Academy – an experience I will always be thankful for

Guest post by Max Dean

Before the Academy

Max DeanI knew that it wasn’t going to be easy to find a job after graduating from studying Graphic Communication at Cardiff Metropolitan University. It turns out that my CV or the covering letters I wrote weren’t the biggest problem, indeed I got to the interview stage for several internships I applied for. My communication difficulties/social anxiety and lack of interview skills and experience was, however. The problem was that I had plenty to talk about but I just couldn’t get it out. Despite this I was determined to keep myself busy and not give up.

Before I joined the Graduate Academy I was doing quite a lot of volunteering, unpaid writing work for various youth initiative’s such as the 99% Youth Initiative and some freelance work for the organisation, the Found Generation. The main subjects of my writing were and still are, current affairs, social and youth issues. I was also involved with the Prince’s Trust Fairbridge programme where I participated in group activities such as ice-climbing. Though these experiences helped to build my confidence, I was aware that I needed to undertake more personal development on a professional level.

I came across the Academy when one of the career advisors at Cardiff Metropolitan University suggested I consider applying. After reading into it the course seemed like the perfect opportunity to advance my career prospects. My main aim of joining was to improve my interpersonal skills as, despite my significant progress, I still found it quite hard in social situations. Furthermore, I knew the ILM Level 4 Leadership and Management award would help me stand out in a competitive jobs market while giving me valuable professional knowledge and awareness.

My Graduate Academy Work Placement

During my work placement at Cathays community centre my role was to assist the Publicity Officer in creating a newsletter, assisting with other publicity material and social media. During my time I was also able to contribute towards a business plan for the re-development of the centre’s cafe by working with the Development Officer. This involved researching other cafes in the surrounding area for analysis. This was very useful as I was directly applying theory I learned to a working environment and I had the impression that the Development Officer was very appreciative of the help I gave her.

What I Have Gained

As a result of the course I have more confidence in my abilities and skills. By identifying my values I am now more aware of my strengths and able to communicate them clearly in interviews or similar situations, which means I also have clearer future aims. The opportunity to interact with groups of other young people as part of my work placement, many who required support, very much helped me develop my social skills.  Above all, I thoroughly enjoyed meeting everyone else who was on the course and working with them. I was genuinely sad to see everyone go their separate ways when the final conference at Lampeter campus ended. The support and positive feedback both they and tutors gave me is something I will always be very thankful for.

My Future Plans

I now hope to undergo another placement at Mind’s media team in Cardiff, SNAP Cymru, or continue my role with the Found Generation. In the future, I am aiming towards a job in a communications role or in copywriting. I also want to continue to develop my writing through maintaining my blog and continuing to write for the 99% Youth Initiative, the Found Generation and the Cardiff Times.