Francesca Langeland, first-year Graduate Management Trainee in Strategy and Transformation, talks about her experience on the SCW graduate scheme.
I’m Francesca, a graduate management trainee with SCW. I work in Strategy and Transformation and support Health Education England (HEE) with their digital transformation programme.
My background - I am not your typical grad scheme candidate. I’m 33 years old and have two daughters aged one and three. Entering a new career later in life whilst juggling other responsibilities is daunting. However, SCW isn’t a typical grad scheme. There is no competitive culture or expectation to overwork to prove yourself. I am supported, nurtured, and given the tools to develop professionally and have the homelife balance I need for my children.
I had previously worked for the NHS as a healthcare assistant (HCA) for a mental health trust. I left the NHS and went to university as a mature student. After graduating, I was committed to returning to the NHS and using the new skills from my degree. I was also aware of the gaps in my knowledge and wanted to develop new skills.
My experience of applying to the scheme - Finding the SCW Graduate scheme advertised on NHS Jobs was a heart-stopping moment. Here was a chance to re-join the NHS, use my new skills, and be given the tools to grow and develop. Exactly the opportunity I wanted.
At the time, I thought that people on graduate schemes joined fresh out of university, aged twenty-one and ready to be moulded. They weren’t like me with years of baggage. It was hard to block out the self-doubt telling me not to bother trying. However, this opportunity was too good to miss. Once the kids were asleep, I worked on my application and hit that send button.
I wrote honestly about my background and my non-traditional route to university on my application form. Although I was confident I had the skills required, I was genuinely surprised to be invited to the assessment day.
The assessment day was fantastic. Although I was nervous at the start, everyone involved was extremely welcoming and put us at ease. SCW created an environment where we could display the best of ourselves. When my partner asked me how it went, I said, 'I did the best I could, but the other candidates were all fantastic'. Which was true, so I was utterly floored when I was later offered a place on the grad scheme.
Top tips for applying - My bias on what a typical grad looked like was finally put to bed when I met the rest of my cohort in October. Some of us are straight out of university and bring fantastic knowledge and enthusiasm. Many of us have had non-linear progression to this point and have got a mixture of skills and experience. Not one grad is a carbon copy of one another.
With this in mind, my main tip to anyone applying this year is to be yourself, trust your experience, and sell what you bring. Don’t get stuck in your head over what you think SCW want. You may end up holding back what makes you fantastic.
My work throughout the scheme so far - The potential to grow at SCW is exponential. There is a staggering variety of projects and work completed across our teams. I will be working on one project for six months, but no two days are the same. I’ve been lucky to work with a national body and meet people who make governmental decisions. I also get to support the inspirational work carried out by grassroots staff.
Outside of my assigned projects, I’ve involved myself in issues of personal interest. I helped with a project from the Health Inequalities interest group. Growing up living under the poverty line, I was extremely keen to support SCW’s attempts to tackle inequalities. I am also passionate about climate change and attend SCW’s Greener NHS group. The group will support the NHS in becoming the worlds first carbon-neutral healthcare service.
SCW and an employer - SCW is an exemplary example of why I wanted to return to the NHS. They allow me to improve the lives of my community and the wider population. They have also created an empathetic and supportive working culture.
Looking to the future - By the end of the grad scheme, I want to be an NHS Leader. I want to be a creator within our healthcare system and make genuine improvements to health and social care. I’m also conscious of how my previous managers supported and invested in me. These mentors led me to university and my current role at SCW. I hope to return the favour and become a leader who helps others find their path.
So, to any potential applicants who worry that you don’t quite fit the mould, our wiggly paths with bumps in the road have worth and will give you the foundations to thrive at SCW. Please apply today.