Who better to tell you about our Professional Trainee Scheme than our professional trainees themselves? Seisha joined us on our Customer Service Professional Trainee Scheme in November 2012. We caught up with her to find out about her journey so far – from milking cows to professional project management qualifications!
What made you choose the NFU Mutual Customer Service Professional Trainee Scheme over other graduate schemes?
My degree is in English Language and Literature and I wanted a scheme where I could learn new skills while developing the ones I’d learnt at university. I really liked the sound of the variety of placements and six month rotations at NFU Mutual. Whereas with other schemes you could perhaps find yourself stuck in one department, I knew that here I’d get a good experience of the entire company which would help me make future career decisions. I came along to the assessment day and everyone was so friendly that I didn’t pursue any other options as I knew it was the place for me!
What’s a typical day like for you on the scheme?
There really isn’t one. It’s so varied that no two weeks are ever the same. That’s one of the things I love most about the scheme. You’re not just taking a backseat or looking on and making notes, you get involved from the word go, working on large projects and making real business decisions. On the Customer Service scheme, one day I could be out visiting one of our regional offices and the next, presenting to senior colleagues or holding a workshop on how we can improve processes. You’re given a lot of responsibility for a trainee but it’s great to be able to make such an impact on the business.
What’s the training and support you get like on the scheme?
You have a mentor, a development coach, line managers and also a close network of other trainees so there’s definitely plenty of support around you. The training you get is really impressive and you cover a lot of ground through professional qualifications, coaching and training courses. When I started, I had no insurance knowledge whatsoever but the first qualification you do is a certificate in insurance which gives you a good understanding of the industry. I also did a farm familiarisation course where I was out in the field learning all about the agricultural side of things – I even learnt how to milk a cow which was fun and also useful from a customer insight point of view. I’m currently working on my Prince II Project Management certification and there are all kinds of other courses you can book yourself onto internally and externally: from Microsoft Office training to presentation skills.
What do you enjoy most about the scheme?
Having different placements means you get a holistic view of the company and how it works which helps you to think about what department you’d like to go into at the end of the scheme. In every single area of the business that I’ve worked in, the people have been genuinely excited about having me there as a trainee. And everyone is working towards one goal and shares a real passion for our customers which makes it a great environment to work in. No one is unapproachable. You’re treated with respect and trusted to work on real projects and make a contribution to the business. Having a swimming pool, a lovely canteen and other great facilities can’t be overlooked either!
The NFU Mutual PTS has quite a small yearly intake. What does this mean for you as a trainee and the opportunities you get?
I think it definitely provides more opportunities and more responsibility. For instance, at the end of each placement, you give a presentation to senior stakeholders on what you’ve been doing and what you’ve learnt. It was a little daunting at first but it’s a brilliant opportunity to build relationships and exercise your presentation skills. Also, because there aren’t hundreds of us, we’re a tightknit group of trainees – we do things together socially and support one another professionally.
What would your top tips for success be for someone joining or applying for the scheme?
Get stuck in! Try new things, ask questions and don’t worry if you make mistakes. It’s an environment where you’re given the freedom and trust to trial ways of working, to go out of your comfort zone and learn from any mistakes you make along the way. It’s not easy – you have to juggle your day-to-day work with your courses and qualification study – but it’s an amazing opportunity and a place that you can feel proud to work in.
NFU Mutual Professional Trainee Scheme – Customer Service – Seisha Dixon