1. Please give an overview of your role and what this involves on a day-to-day basis:
I am a Project Delivery Support Officer in my team's PMO (Project Management Office). My role is to support the on-time, in-budget delivery of the various projects my team and I are involved in. I create plans, look at the risks that could affect our work, communicate with the people who will be most affected by our projects, compile updates of our work to send out to various areas and make sure that my team have the resources they need to do their best work.
2. Have you learnt any new skills or developed existing skills?
I have learnt so many new skills. Before being offered this apprenticeship I worked in a call centre, so I came in brand new without any prior knowledge of well, anything! Not only have I learnt specific project management skills, I slowly improved the skill of being able to get people on side - the ability to listen and be listened to is improving every day as confidence in my abilities improves too. Things I thought I new from school - excel, writing, databases, emailing, using technology, have all been challenged and improved upon tenfold.
3. To what extent do you enjoy your programme?
I absolutely love this programme. The days absolutely fly by because every day offers a different challenge. I haven't been comfortable since I started here, which suits me perfectly because the progress I have made in sixth months is exponential. I have been placed at the Ministry of Justice but you could be placed at any ministry or department, so there's such a huge excitement in going in to a completely new environment and learning everyday about a different thing.
4. How well organised/structured is your programme?
The apprenticeship itself, alongside the work, has had its troubles with past candidates because the people who previously offered it went bust. It is now being delivered by KPMG/QA and well organised. There is an apprenticeship network being set up, for social events and promoting opportunities, but for now I am in constant contact with the 20/30 other apprentices that I work with. There is so much support from every direction; from your line manager, manager, apprenticeship facilitator, any mentors you choose and colleagues.
5. How much support do you receive from your employer?
Every time that work gets the best of me and I don't take my 20% study time, my manager constantly reminds me to take it. My manager has never berated me for the time I spend on my apprenticeship, they are always there if I want to ask questions, and they are currently organising shadowing for me, so that I can cover parts of the apprenticeship that I might otherwise not cover. I have never felt that I was alone, the amount of support available is phenomenal.
6. How much support do you receive from your training provider when working towards your qualifications?
QA/KMPG have teamed up with APM to offer so many resources to help with apprenticeship work. There are free log ins to use published project management books, we have 'Forum days' alongside our monthly apprenticeship days to help us with the extra skills we need in life, and you have an apprenticeship facilitator who you will meet with monthly, and can email at any time for help.
7. How well do you feel that your qualification (through your training provider) helps you to perform better in your role?
I would be lost without this apprenticeship. There's only so much you can read in a book about project management. Project Management is a job that requires you to try new things, to talk about it, to compare answers and listen to people who have done it before. Learning in isolation would never get you to where you need to be at, knowledge, skills and behaviour wise.
8. Are there extra-curricular activities to get involved in at your work? (For example, any social activities, sports teams, or even professional networking events.)
There are loads! Birthdays, Maternity, Retirement, Promotions are always celebrated, usually with cake and drinks after work, trips to parliament are organised, and to the national archives where you can look at gruesome photos. Things like crazy golf and pub quizzes are organised, and team days happen about once every 6 weeks, and it's up to you to decide what you want to do with them.
9a. Would you recommend Civil Service to a friend?
This opportunity has changed my life. Where once worked in a call centre in an area where there were no jobs, now I have a career and future in front of me. In the civil service it is often said that if you want them, opportunities are everywhere, which I can see to be true. For the first time in my life I can see a positive staff turnover - where people leave the department or ministry to go on to bigger and better things, and then come back a few years later, and then leave again. If you want an exciting career that constantly propels you to new heights, the civil service is for you; likewise, if you want a comfy job where you know the hours, can trust in your abilities and experience to now what you are doing, the civil service is for you.
10. What tips or advice would you give to others applying to Civil Service?
You are usually competency based which means that you don't have to have prior knowledge of the particular job, they will focus more on who you are, how you work and what you're capable of, so don't worry if you don't have the skills you worry that other people will have, it won't necessarily put you at a disadvantage. Be completely yourself during the application process, there's no point showing yourself to be someone you're not and being placed in an apprenticeship that makes you miserable.
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