Will Maule, first-year Graduate Management Trainee in Informatics, talks about his experience on the graduate scheme.

I’m Will, and I’m currently about 3 months into my first year on the graduate scheme at SCW. My main role is in the Corporate Systems team within the Informatics service line, but due to the pressure on the NHS caused by Covid, I’m currently spending 3 days a week working as a Clinician Support Officer on SCW’s CCAS-02 (Covid Clinical Assessment Service) programme.

The graduate scheme application - I applied to the scheme because I saw it as an opportunity to make a positive difference to society whilst still giving me the ability to grow professionally and get experience in a wide range of skillsets. At the time, I was studying for an MSc in Economics, and most of my coursemates were applying for jobs in banking, finance and insurance. I realised that whilst I was qualified for these types of roles, the parts of my course that I’d enjoyed the most hadn’t been Finance, but rather learning about population health management, health inequalities and health policy, so a role in the NHS seemed like a much better destination for me if I wanted to enjoy my career. SCW was a particularly exciting opportunity because it allowed me to pursue these interests in particular given the emphasis on population health management, rather than just generally being in the health sector. Additionally, the fact that SCW has to win its work means that whilst it remains a part of the NHS, it resembles a business in many ways, meaning that graduates are given skills and experience that are transferrable across the job market, and not solely within the NHS.

SCW as an employer - The best thing about SCW as an employer in my experience is how much they care about your development, and the level of insight you’re given as a graduate into all levels and areas of the organisation. Being on the graduate scheme opens up various opportunities for development, including the masterclass sessions and AgilePM course, but this focus on personal and professional development extends beyond the scheme, so for example I’ve been given access to courses on User Experience Design and Service Improvement that have been particularly applicable to my day-to-day role. I’ve had the freedom to shape my role to a great extent, meaning that I’ve been able to pursue those opportunities that I think will be the best for my career development, at every stage being helped by colleagues to understand how these decisions affect organisational outcomes. Finally, I’ve really appreciated how much encouragement I’ve received from colleagues at all levels of the organisation to ‘play the grad card’ and engage with senior managers in different service lines to my own. These people might seem intimidating at first, but they could not be more welcoming of the chance to spend time getting to know and helping graduates, and my conversations with these people have significantly shaped my perception of where I want my role to lead.

How the scheme has benefitted me so far - The development of skills, as well as the competencies are given to us to work on from the start, are obviously a very important part of the scheme, and in addition to the qualifications and other opportunities that have come with it, I feel that I’ve benefitted most from being able to get a clear understanding of what skills I need to be working on, and where my role is consequently headed. I’ve been able to identify areas in which I can improve, and the clear set of competencies, as well as studying leadership in the NHS through the Edward Jenner Programme has provided me with a goal of getting into a position of leadership by the end of the scheme, in which I can engage colleagues in the learning processes required to follow adaptive solutions to problems.

Tips for applicants - The application process can seem intimidating, as a lot of people tend to apply, and I personally found it difficult because it’s so hard to understand exactly what Commissioning Support Units like SCW do. Don’t let this put you off though, because those involved at every stage of recruitment were welcoming and encouraging – they’re not trying to trip you up, but giving you an opportunity to show that you’d be a good fit for the scheme. My #1 tip for the process is to think very clearly about the goals you have for your career, both in terms of personal development and the impact you’d like to have on other people. Then think about tangible ways in which being a part of the SCW graduate scheme would facilitate the achievement of these goals (oh, and if there’s a team exercise in the assessment centre, try to collaborate with the other candidates, you won’t get anywhere by treating it like a competition).

I’m really happy with how my first few months at SCW have gone, and I look forward to getting to know the new cohort of graduates next Autumn!

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