Local authorities are often subject to a lot of negative press. Actually, so are apprenticeships and, young people in general so, when you put them both together, what do you actually get?
The East of England Local Government Association (EELGA) run annual apprenticeship challenges whereby current, or recently qualified, apprentices working at a local authority have the chance to spend the day with likeminded individuals, completing a range of tasks.
The tasks are designed to test different areas of knowledge, communication and teamwork. Being a part of a communications team, I had my eyes set on winning the communications task. How could I not? I didn’t really know what to expect and there is only so much that you can prepare for the unknown. I had read as much about the events as I could find and I still didn’t really know what I was going into.
It wasn’t until I arrived that it all felt very real. I was not only representing myself, but the organisations I was attending on behalf of. We were put into teams and thrown in at the deep end. An elevator pitch helped break the ice and as the day went on, I felt like I’d known my team mates for years. With backgrounds in family services, planning, housing and, of course communications, we all brought something different to the table.
The first task we completed set the groundwork for the way our team worked best. We all had our own time to talk, express our ideas and most importantly, challenge others if we had a different view. It was healthy criticism. Constructive. Our different backgrounds meant we all had a different way of thinking. ‘How would this impact a family?’. ‘Would this affect a particular service?’. And inevitably, my point of ‘how would it appear to the press?’. We almost ‘fell’ into a way of working. We found our groove and stuck to it. Like they say, ‘if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it’.
The range of tasks throughout the day challenged me in ways I had never experienced before and to say I enjoyed it, would be an understatement. From responding to queries over email and the phone, to deciding the priorities in an emergency and writing a press release, we were tested in many different ways and we all excelled.
Personal development is something that I value, I always want to better myself. Learn a new skill, do something out of my comfort zone and most importantly, keep learning. You’ll be proud of your past self when something you learnt along the way comes in handy.
The truth is, I wanted to win. I’m very competitive and, extremely hard on myself. They don’t always go together but, it’s something I’m working on. Was I disappointed not to win overall? Yes. Of course I was, but when I looked back on my day, I was filled with an immense feeling of pride and accomplishment.
I learnt a lot about myself and the role that I am fulfilling. I love public sector work. I get a sense of enjoyment from everything I do. Almost like adrenaline. I also learnt that the public sector is in very safe hands with my cohort of apprentices looking after it.
The thing about events like this is that, they are challenging, and they can be scary. But, they are so, so rewarding. If you’re in a position to take advantage of things like this, do it. They’re specifically designed for a certain group of people and developed with your existing skills and abilities in mind. They are quite literally, made for you.
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