Firstly, I want to make it clear from the outset that there is no model for a ‘good’ trainee. We are all different and this should be celebrated, which is what the scheme does. But I thought it would be useful as I come to the end of my first year on the scheme to reflect about the qualities I’ve observed in myself and others that help you make the most of the scheme.
- Being open – there are so many opportunities on the scheme from shadowing an ambulance crew to observing an exec team in action (and everything in between), but to make the most of the opportunities you have to say ‘yes’. It can be difficult doing this as you get embroiled in the day job (which is also important) and you may feel guilty about being away from the office so much – I know a lot of my fellow trainees feel this way. But what you have to remember is that the scheme is about so much more than the day job, it’s about your development as a person and a leader and to develop you need to be exposed to as many varied experiences as possible. I’m not saying you should be away from the office all the time, but if an opportunity comes up take a moment to think about how it could help develop you and let that be your driver for making a decision!
- Challenging yourself – for me a lot more easily said than done, but it’s so important to push yourself out of your comfort zone. I have a pathological fear of speaking in front of large groups, but while I’ve been on the scheme I’ve tried to push myself to say yes to every opportunity to do this (see I’m being open to doing new things!!). Yes, I’ve been terrified before presenting; yes, sometimes I’ve sounded like a bit of a bumbling idiot, but the sense of achievement after doing it has been immense!
- Reflecting – your time on the scheme flies by and you are often extremely busy, so it can be difficult to press pause and stop and think about what you’ve learnt, what you might like to do differently etc. I really struggle with this, both in my professional and personal life, I’m always too focused on the next thing I need to do. I’m in awe of the trainees to whom reflection seems to come so effortlessly to and I’m actively trying to improve my approach. Writing these blogs has actually really helped. ?
- Being kind – I think being kind to yourself and others is hugely important both to survive the scheme and for life in general. We are all only human and there will be times on the scheme when we struggle. I remember having a deadline for EGA and UCL assignments as well as key piece of work I had to complete and just bursting into tears. And that’s ok. Obviously, I did what any self-respecting person would do and got a big bag of chocolate and binge watched the latest series of Orange is the New Black and felt much better the next day. The other trainees are always around to cheer each other up when one of us is having a bad day and I know I seem to mention this in pretty much every blog I write, but getting to know the other trainees is one of the best things about the scheme! ?
- Managing your time – definitely not the most glamorous quality to have, but definitely a lifesaver for the scheme and sets you up well for the rest of your working life. You have a lot to do on the scheme EGA, specialism quals, Action Learning Sets, Experiential Learning, Blogs…not to mention your actual job, so it can be difficult to fit everything in. I’ve found by managing my time I’ve been less stressed when it came close to deadlines (apart from the situation I mentioned above, but nobody’s perfect!)
Hope you’ve found this useful. Any questions you can find me on Twitter @JessyDouble mainly tweeting about the Grad Scheme and cats!!