You are here

Catherine Paddon - Graduate Scheme

Catherine graduated from the BA (Hons) History degree and was successfully offered a place on the Suffolk County Council graduate scheme in 2018:

The Suffolk graduate scheme has been a fantastic opportunity. After graduating with a History (BA) Hons I was not sure which path to take. My peers were often going in to teaching or the heritage sector however I knew that I wanted to try my hand at a slightly more non-traditional route for a history graduate. By forcing myself to think outside the box I came across the Suffolk Graduate Scheme.

When I saw the advert for the scheme, I jumped at it. It had all the things that I was looking for in the diversity of the role and possible opportunities that the partnership could offer me. The aspect of the role that initially stood out to me was the partnership between the below organisations;

  • Suffolk County Council (SCC)
  • East Suffolk
  • West Suffolk
  • Mid Suffolk and Babergh
  • Suffolk Constabulary
  • Suffolk Fire and Rescue

With such a plethora of partners involved in the scheme I knew that it would be able to offer me the variety and the learning experiences I was craving. I was also rather ashamed to say that, at the time, I had no idea what Local Government did! I have since learnt that no, it isn’t all council tax and bins! As a recent graduate and someone at the start of their career local government has been able to offer me the most amazing variety.

I was one of eleven lucky graduates to win a place out of more than one hundred that applied from across the country. The scheme works in four lots of six-month placements to total the two-year fixed term. In that time, I have been welcomed in to the worlds of Customer Services and Housing; helping people navigate their way through the often daunting world of housing and homelessness. Closely followed by a foray in to policy at West Suffolk; in which I learnt some of the intricacies and skills it takes to implement policy change affecting our local communities. Lastly, I have been lucky enough to work with the Prevention Team at Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service; in which I have been trying to answer the question “How do we prove that what we are doing to prevent fire works?”.

This has all been complimented by an Institute of Leadership and Management (ILM) Level 7 qualification. The post-graduate award in Leadership and Management has forced me to maintain a critical eye on all of my placements and provide a deliverable for each of our placement managers. This ensures that our work has an impact broader than the six months in which we are physically there. The buy in from the partners have also allowed us to gain access to the upper echelons of the management and leadership hierarchy within each organisation, allowing us to learn directly from their experiences on their careers, drivers, attitudes towards culture and vision for local government in Suffolk. This has been vital in my personal growth within the role as understanding the drivers to local government and the public sector more broadly cannot be underestimated.

The scheme has offered me the variety and the opportunity that I feel a job in the private sector may not have been able to give me. Vitally, the scheme offered me a structured first outing in to the “adult” world when if I had not gone in to something with set parameters, I feel I might have struggled. By merging the professional with the academic it was reassuring and familiar. The scheme has taught me as much about what does work for me as what doesn’t whilst giving me more exposure to different working styles, management styles and organisational culture then I would have achieved in five years of a non-graduate job role. The research skills, curiosity and critical thinking skills I learnt at UOS has been instrumental in making the jump to post graduate employment and I would encourage everyone to think slightly outside of the box when leaving university and do something that they find fundamentally challenging! I did and I could not be happier.