Personal and professional development are at the forefront of graduates’ experiences at BT. One way that BT helps graduates become future leaders is through its various graduate programmes (see the box opposite for a list). Another is through BT’s extensive and established graduate network, Gradnet. Gradnet enables BT’s graduates across the UK to keep in touch with each other and learn about the different social and development events available at BT. ‘There’s a real sense of a graduate community. It does feel that you are part of something nationally,’ explains Gillian Smith, a graduate HR business partner in HQ & central functions at BT Openreach.
Gradnet runs social events such as quizzes, sports competitions and ski trips, as well as workshops such as finance and commercial awareness training sessions and knowledgesharing events with senior leadership. These events are organised by a committee of graduates.
Kloe Cooper, a graduate in BT’s consumer change team, has taken up a number of positions on Gradnet’s committee: ‘Through Gradnet I’ve developed skills that I haven’t necessarily gotten to use in my current role yet, such as project management and leadership. It’s allowed me to start to think about how I want to build by career for the future.’ Whether graduates attend the events or get involved with organising them, there are opportunities for personal and professional development to be found through Gradnet.
Going the extra mile
Gillian and Kloe were both attracted by the chances to get involved in meaningful work through Gradnet. Last year, Gillian and Kloe were part of a group of 100 graduates and apprentices who braved a 25-mile orienteering hike through the night, followed by an early-morning 5km muddy assault course. Through their efforts the 100 graduates and apprentices collectively raised £28,000 for the BT Supporters Club, BT Sport’s charitable initiative that aims to create a better future for young people in the UK and internationally who are facing incredibly tough challenges.
‘I wanted to be involved in raising money for charity and, to be honest, to make even more friends and be a part of that social element,’ says Kloe. This social aspect was the highlight of her experience on the charity challenge, ‘At eight in the morning, the sun was coming up over the Lake District and, though I hadn’t slept for 24 hours and was really tired, I was energised by being able to share that moment with the really inspirational people I’d met in my team.’ you in pursuing new challenges,’ adds Kloe, who is able to attend Gradventure meetings throughout her regular working day. ‘Gradnet and Gradventure are really supported by the business – they can really see that it’s great for participants. It raises money for charities and helps develop future leaders,’ adds Gillian. ‘It’s definitely been a great opportunity to develop outside of our graduate programmes.’
Gillian could not recommend joining BT’s graduate programmes highly enough. ‘There’s a real balance between professional development, in terms of skills and experience, and having loads of fun. And you meet so many great people. It’s just brilliant.’
Making graduate programmes personal
Graduates are able to tailor their professional development on BT ’s graduate programmes in a way that suits their career ambitions. Kloe has experienced first-hand how she was allowed to find her perfect career match at BT: ‘My graduate scheme is made up of four rotations. My third rotation really clicked with me; I knew that it was what I wanted to do. BT trusted that I knew what was right for me and allowed me to do my final rotation with the same team.’
Every graduate at BT also attends the week-long residential Leadership Launchpad course. The exact details of this week are a closely guarded secret, but Gillian was clear that it was a highlight for her: ‘From a personal development point of view, what you learn about yourself is brilliant. When you go back to work the following week you know how you can use what you learned and apply it directly to your work.’
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