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Meet the graduates: one year on

When they embarked on their careers with us, the graduate intake of 2016 were filled with excitement for the journey ahead - and no small sense of trepidation.

Beginning a new job alongside more than 550 colleagues, in a company which is one of the leaders in its field, can be daunting for those fresh out of university.

But a year into their careers - and with great support from team leaders and senior management - they are positively thriving.

Finding the right role

Lucy O’Brien, who studied IT management at Sheffield Hallam University and is currently working in business change, said: “Before joining, I was apprehensive about whether my skills were the right fit but I soon found out that I was using many of the skills I’d learned in university, such as information analysis, so Together really picked the best department for me. When I was studying, I was unsure of what I wanted to do in the long-term but I’ve been placed in a role that really suits me, which has given me my focus.”

Alongside our other graduates, Lucy, from Glossop, took part in a day-long assessment, a test not only of the skills they’d learned at university but also of whether they would be a perfect fit for the business culture here at Together.

Lucy said: “The assessment here was the first I had done, so I was slightly wary, but I really enjoyed the day. I remember coming out and speaking to my dad about it afterwards and being really positive about the whole experience.”

Her colleague, Yvonne Johnson, who studied management at Lancaster University, said: “There is a genuine shared commitment to the organisation, which you often hear when people talk about Together. People are really happy to work here and that shows, even in the small ways people act.” She adds: “In a way, it doesn’t matter which specific role you are in, as long as you are in the right team, with the right leadership, there’s the chance to do really well.”

Helping to shape the future of Together

Most graduates take part in a rotation, allowing them to experience on-the-job training in four departments over six months. The flexible scheme allows the graduates to find their feet in an area of the business which is best suited to their skills.

Kenna Ngoma studied business management at The University of Gloucestershire and has already completed two placements in the commercial and IT departments at Together. He is now working within the personal finance team.

He said: “From the start we were told we would have the chance to work on important projects across the business, but you’re really thrown in at the deep end. I’ve been involved with some really high-profile projects, such as the commercial bridging process and important IT changes, which are fundamental to helping the business achieve its ambitious targets, so it’s been great to be involved right from the outset.”

Continued development

The chance to move around the business has opened up new possibilities to some graduates by allowing them an insight into roles they hadn’t previously considered. One of our graduates, Nabiha Saeed, has completed projects looking at how to improve the customer journey, as well as taking extra vocational qualifications. She is now on secondment to HR.

Nabiha, who graduated in business with economics from Salford University and said: “I had expected to stay in a customer service role but seeing how many interesting projects HR are involved with has really changed my view.”

Accounting and finance graduate Ellie Percival, from Wilmslow, studied at Coventry University and had always been focused on a role in finance. Now in commercial finance, she is now working towards her qualification to become a chartered accountant. Ellie added: “I’ve learned more than I expected – more ‘soft’ skills such as the way to communicate with stakeholders, and have had a lot of support to achieve what I want to.”

Making it count with Factory Youth Zone

As part of our Let’s Make it Count activity; which spans charity, community and the environment, our graduate trainees have taken on a special project for the Factory Youth Zone in Manchester, carrying out research and analysis on the impact the centre has had in the thirty years since it was founded.

Together is a long-time supporter of this centre for young people located in Harpurhey – one of the country’s most deprived areas, where unemployment is high and more than half of children are living in poverty.

Kevin Fisher, HR director at Together explains: “We always set our graduate trainees a project to work on collaboratively, and this year we decided to link that to our wider CSR activity so that they can give their time and skills to help a cause that is close to our hearts. The Factory Youth Zone does fantastic work in giving young people a range of opportunities they may not otherwise have access to, so we’re very pleased to be able to offer our support.”

Catherine O’Brien, a 23-year-old graduate who studied business with marketing at Northumbria University and is currently working in commercial finance, has been the relationship manager for the project, coordinating activity and liaising with the team at the centre.

She said: “The 30-year anniversary of the Manchester Ball is being held in honour of the Factory Youth Zone and we’re looking forward to presenting our project at the event and supporting them with their publicity campaign to raise awareness of the great work the centre does.”

For more information, visit: http://themanchesterball.com and www.thefactoryyz.org