‘I’m originally from Old Colwyn, a small village in North Wales, and moved down to Cardiff after graduating from Bangor University with a first in Business and Management in 2018. I love both watching and participating in sport and I took up rugby when I first moved to Cardiff, which was one of the best things I’ve done! I love cooking, holidays, long walks, nice cocktails, am partial to a bit of DIY and more recently have started going to CrossFit which is challenging but so rewarding.
I found out about CCR’s graduate scheme through Cardiff Council’s website when I was searching for graduate roles more suited to my studies and experience. I was delighted to be offered a role with the team and have since been working across the Investment and Innovation teams, looking specifically at the development of CCR’s priority clusters. This suits me as I get to speak to a wide variety of people, from all different sectors and businesses, and have learnt so much already whilst gaining insights into the various strategies and processes. I hope to forge strong business relationships with those I work with across the industry and continue to build my confidence and ability, working with government and private sector companies to improve the lives of those across SE Wales and I’m excited to see where this experience takes me!’
Name: Natalie Hughes
Hometown: Old Colwyn
University Attended: Bangor University
Graduation Date: July 2018
CCR Graduate Job Title: Graduate Development Officer
Start Date: 1st November 2021
Supervisor/Manager Name: Nicola Somerville
Did you apply for many graduate roles or schemes? (if so, how many)
Yes – around 3/4 in total when I originally graduated back in 2018
What were your thoughts/feelings around applying for roles/schemes during a pandemic?
There’s no doubt that deciding to switch up my career during a pandemic did have its risks, especially as I now own a house and have more financial responsibilities. Nothing will change if you change nothing, so I was still optimistic about my job opportunities and knew a change in career was the right step for me. The recruitment process was definitely different given the circumstances, but I was made to feel comfortable instantly which really helped ease any worries I had.
What attracted you to the CCR graduate scheme?
It was very different to anything I had seen advertised before. Working in both private and public sector previously, this scheme really spoke to me as it hit the balance right in the middle – making a difference to the region whilst also having the commercial edge/outlook. I also wanted to meet new people and network more as I’m newer to the area, and this seemed like a great opportunity to put my name out there.
How was your experience applying for the CCR graduate scheme during the pandemic?
I took the opportunity to have a chat with Nicola prior to officially submitting my application for the role which was extremely helpful. Applying for jobs when already working remotely can feel a bit daunting, so it was nice to hear someone’s voice and to also gain more of an understanding of the varied nature of the role. The recruitment process was straightforward and easy to understand. The levels of shortlisting are to be expected now given the wider competition.
What are you hoping to achieve during your time on the scheme?
I have already achieved a lot and learnt so much, especially when it comes to developing my knowledge of what is actually going on in the region, as the work CCR does is not always shouted about. I want to continue to develop my understanding of investment strategy in practise alongside the context of clusters and to also continue to work with the EIPC as I find that helped underpin my understanding of the long-term strategy. The dynamics of working closely with local government is also extremely interesting and is something I want to continue building my knowledge on.
Is there anything you would say to others thinking of applying for the scheme?
If you’re looking to get insightful, on the job experience and willing to work conscientiously as part of a driven and knowledgeable team who offer brilliant support, then go for it!
One sentence to sum up your CCR graduate scheme experience…
An incredibly useful, exciting scheme working alongside a welcoming and ambitious team who genuinely believe in the potential of the region.
One word that sums up your CCR graduate scheme experience…
How are you finding your new role? Has it exceeded expectations?
I love my new role. I’ve met and engaged with so many knowledgeable people across various fields and industries, I know I would not have had this opportunity without CCR’s graduate scheme. It has been an intense learning curve for me personally, but I have felt more supported by those I work with than ever before which has encouraged me to continue developing my own skills and confidence.
How are you finding the modules?
There has been a lot of reflective practises during the early stages of the ILM course which have proved helpful. I don’t usually reflect on things that went well and tend to focus on negatives, but the course has helped me to reframe that. The course is a more practical than for example a degree, which makes it easily applicable to workplace scenarios.