The NGDP offers brilliant developmental opportunities for those who can hit the ground running within a dynamic and changing sector.
After working for a commercial law firm after graduating I decided that I wanted a more rewarding career where I would deliver social value as opposed to financial profits. I was attracted to a career in local government because I wanted to make a real difference to local communities. The NGDP is an excellent way to enter this sector as it allows you to gain experience of a variety of work areas within diverse organisations. The NGDP programme at West Sussex County Council has not disappointed.
My first placement saw me working within the waste prevention team whose role is to reduce the amount of waste produced within the county. My primary role throughout this placement was to rejuvenate a volunteer scheme that had recently been brought back in house and had recently been the subject of a highly critical review. I was tasked with preparing an action plan to rejuvenate the scheme in order that the authority and the volunteers would have a scheme that they could be proud of and then project managing the implementation of the plan. This was a great introduction to project planning, community engagement and volunteer management and made me realise how important it is to lead both staff and residents through change.
This placement also exposed me to European project work as the team were partially funded through EU grants. This allowed me to share ideas with officers from partner organisation who ran similar schemes in the UK, Belgium and the Netherlands. It was also a great introduction to an alternative source of funding that local authorities can bid for in order to improve services.
I chose to do my second placement within the waste commissioning team in order to gain experience of commissioning services that meet the needs of residents. During this time I have worked on the procurement of a joint collection and disposal service with the district and boroughs of West Sussex which will lead to savings and to an improved service for residents. I am also helping to revise the county's waste strategy in order that it reflects how circumstances have changed since it was drafted in 2005.
I have received excellent support from the scheme co-ordinators as well as my placement managers. The authority has really gone the extra mile to provide graduates with placements where they can make a difference and further their professional development. After my first year as a graduate at West Sussex County Council I believe that I have been given an excellent introduction to local government work which I will be able to build on throughout my career.