If I’m honest, I never thought that I would end up working for a water company…but I’m so glad that I am.
I applied to Anglian Water’s Customer Service graduate scheme during my final year at uni where I was finishing my Psychology degree – yes, Psychology! When I applied, I didn’t know much about the water industry (at all) but I knew that I was passionate about customer service and I liked the sound of the scheme Anglian Water were offering. So, I applied and was contacted about taking some online tests. Now, having completed several online tests before, I knew what this meant…lots of A-Level style Maths questions – not my cup of tea at all! However, I was pleasantly surprised that Anglian Water had more emphasis on verbal reasoning and personality and although there were some maths questions, they were a lot less daunting than some other companies. Around two weeks later I was invited to have a phone interview with a customer service manager, who would later become my mentor during my two years on the scheme. The interview went well and then came the next step – the assessment centre.
I had never been to an assessment centre before, so I was excited to find out that it would run over two days, with dinner and networking on the first evening (always a plus!) before having the formal assessment the next day. The informal dinner was a really nice way to meet the other candidates, current graduates and managers within Anglian Water. Having that time the night before to get to know people was invaluable; it really put me at ease and showed what a positive, friendly company Anglian Water is. It made me want the job even more! The assessment centre the day after was a tiring day, full of interviews and activities but plenty of time for breaks in between. I really felt that they were trying to assess all different aspects of you as a person, not just your technical knowledge.
However, being the pessimist I am, I didn’t think I’d done brilliantly, so I was really surprised when I was called later that week and offered the position on the graduate scheme – which I accepted without hesitation!
I then had a summer to prepare for entering the world of work and for moving from my hometown of Dereham to Lincoln, where a lot of the customer services departments are based. That summer went far too quickly and almost before I realised it, it was time to start. We had a full induction week, where we did everything from visiting water treatment and water recycling centres to company overviews and team building exercises. There were 10 of us recruited on the scheme in 2012, split over different areas of the business. We have remained friends throughout our time on the scheme and I know this will continue – it’s great to know that you have all these different brains to pick if you find yourself in a muddle!
The weekend after the induction week, I made the move up to Lincoln to start my rotational placements. The first of these was the billing call centre. I’m sure we all have certain ideas about what a call centre is like. Well, it was nothing like I’d imagined. It was open plan, fairly quiet and there were actually very few angry customers, which is always a good sign! I spent three months there and it was definitely the best place for my first placement as I got a great overview of the company and gained knowledge and experience that I’m still drawing on today. After this placement, I spent time managing a team in Resource and Planning – a team who make sure we have enough people, at the right times, on the phones for our customers. Talk about throwing you in the deep end – only three months in and already managing eight people! But that’s what was great about the graduate scheme: each placement is carefully planned so you can build on previous experiences. That does mean that, at times, you are pushed out of your comfort zone – but that’s where you learn best. I had two more placements in Lincoln before moving to Huntingdon to complete a placement in Developer Services & Metering. During all of my placements I was given loads of responsibility and encouraged to bring new ideas into the business, which I loved. The rotational placements mean that you have to relocate every now and again, so you need to be flexible in terms of where you live in order to get the best out of the two years. Being a Norfolk girl through and through, this is something I was dubious about but I have really enjoyed living in a few different places.
Those two years flew by and before I knew it, the words ‘jobs’ and ‘interviews’ were cropping up more and more. It was time to settle in a department for more than a couple of months and take on a permanent role. After keeping my eye out for jobs and applying for a few different roles, I was offered a position in Developer Services, one of my favourite departments. I am now finding my feet as Developer Services’ Performance Manager.
Throughout the scheme, I did everything from creating art masterpieces (I suppose ‘masterpieces’ is a matter of opinion!) and sinking cardboard canoes to managing teams and business-wide projects. The graduate scheme has opened so many doors for me and I feel very lucky to have had these opportunities. So, it’ll come as no surprise to hear that I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend both the scheme and the company!
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