https://innovateuk.blog.gov.uk/2016/03/29/innovate-uk-graduate-scheme-6-months-in/

Innovate UK graduate scheme - 6 months in

Innovate UK graduates visiting the Transport Systems Catapult
Innovate UK graduates visiting the Transport Systems Catapult

Ceris Land, Analyst graduate in IT Support

I think the most exciting thing I have experienced so far during my first 6 months at Innovate UK has to be visiting the Transport Catapult in Milton Keynes. Whilst we were there we had the opportunity to ‘literally’ step into a virtual reality environment, created using an Oculus Rift headset on the Omnifinity Omnideck6. This is cutting edge technology (the only Omnideck in the UK currently) that fully immerses the user into an alternate reality, and also makes you feel a little bit sick!

The first task I was given soon after joining was to redesign our Community of Support SharePoint site, which went ‘live’ at the start of this year. The aim was to make the site more user-friendly and more intuitive so we could try to reduce the number of support tickets being raised around the same issues.

I have also been involved with the CRM project, which has been a great opportunity as I have been able to work with some of our external suppliers and developers. I was involved in reviewing the data we have stored in our current CRM system so that we could take a clean snapshot of it over to our new Salesforce system.

Annaliese Munn, Operations graduate in Competitions

Annaliese Munn at Transport Systems Catapult
Annaliese Munn at Transport Systems Catapult

Project numbers, Project change request, databases and an endless list of Monitoring Officers and Assessors (that you know so well but have no chance of putting a name to a face…) that's the life of an Operations Grad. Yes it doesn't sound glam to the exciting travels of our I-Prog counterparts but we are the ones who make those life-changing projects get from start to finish. The plugs and hard work of the Lead Techs out in the field would be for nought without the grafting happening in the background.

So far I have completed 2 rotations within Operations and am now well into my third for Competitions. The opportunity to see this complicated process end-to-end is something no one else in the company is able to do, so is without a doubt the most exciting experience so far - which pretty much covers the whole graduate experience. Though let's not forget that Catapult visit and tweeting at Innovate 2015…

Joshua Sheppard, Operations graduate in Monitoring

Joshua Sheppard and Alice Goodbrook participating in Sports Relief at Innovate UK office
Joshua Sheppard and Alice Goodbrook participating in Sports Relief at Innovate UK office

I have really enjoyed my time at Innovate UK so far. I have had some great experiences and been able to get involved in several events in only a very short time. The chance to look around the MTC catapult in Coventry and to learn more about the Catapult’s arm of the Innovate family was really interesting. It gave me a chance to see how the day to day work we do helps to develop a wide range of companies and innovation in the UK as a whole.

Being part of the Operations team is a great experience and especially rotating through several teams. It has given me the chance to see what different teams do and share knowledge on how the teams work. I have come to learn that the process of funding organisations is very complex, especially as a public body, and as part of the operations team you are very quickly imbedded in the process, and involved in getting tasks completed, which provides invaluable knowledge and will be very helpful for the future.

Joe Lyford, Operations graduate in Competitions

Joe Lyford at Transport Systems Catapult
Joe Lyford at Transport Systems Catapult

It has been an incredibly quick but enjoyable and enlightening 6 months. The most exciting experience I have had here to date was the opportunity to attend and support at Innovate 2015. It was great to see some of the incredible work being carried out by British organisations as well as their plans for the future. I also enjoyed attending the SME Innovation Awards at the House of Commons and hearing about some of the successful work that has been completed by organisations that we have funded.

I have been pleased with the knowledge I have accumulated from the Operations directorate. This is largely attributable to the rotational nature of the grad scheme, which has allowed me to work in different teams within Operations and witness various stages of the entire process. I am happy with how I have adapted to different areas within Operations and hope that this continues as I move into my next team.

Tony Mohammed, Operations Graduate in Grants & Contracts

Tony Mohammed at Innovate 2015
Tony Mohammed at Innovate 2015

As a graduate at Innovate UK you have the opportunity to expand your network immensely, and I would say this overall is the most exciting aspect of the scheme so far. I have been able to liaise with a variety of different internal and external stakeholders including office based workers, lead technologists (and others within the Innovation Programme team), relationship managers of the Catapult centres, various directors and of course the Innovate UKs governing board. The opportunity to liaise with these stakeholders is daunting and rewarding at the same time and not necessarily something you may have the opportunity on other schemes.

I am currently in my second rotation through Operations, currently in Grants and Contracts, and this rotation has enabled me to gain a base knowledge of the teams I have / will be in. This will eventually help me to gain the knowledge of the end-to-end process of Operations here at Innovate UK, which limited people know. The benefits of this is to transfer this information throughout each team and hope that it gives everyone in the organisation an insight of how every aspect of Operations run whilst enhancing the communication between teams. I have gained many transferrable skills throughout my first two rotations and believe these life skills will be hugely beneficial for my time here at Innovate UK.

Alice Goodbrook, Analyst graduate in Energy

Alice Goodbrook at Low Carbon Network Innovation Event with Energy lead technologists
Alice Goodbrook at Low Carbon Network Innovation Event with Energy lead technologists

One of the best things about my job is getting out the office to see projects and companies across the UK. My favourite trip so far was to Lowestoft; best known for being the most easterly settlement in the UK and now home to SSE’s Great Gabbard offshore windfarm. Visiting the Windfarms operation facilities and seeing the year-round maintenance and monitoring it takes to keep the windfarm providing power, brought home just how innovation in these areas can make a real difference to helping the UK keep its lights on.

The biggest thing I have learnt since joining Innovate 6 months ago is how to be an effective member of a team, which is predominantly field based. These ‘skills’ have varied from learning how to present work over video conferencing, how to keep up-to-date with team members over email and phone calls, as well as learning how to work efficiently while sitting on a train.

Zoe Fitzgerald, Analyst graduate in Urban living

Innovate UK graduates visiting Transport Systems Catapult
Innovate UK graduates visiting Transport Systems Catapult

The past 6 months at Innovate UK have been an absolute whirlwind of new people, places and experiences. Being in the Urban Living & Built Environment team has given me numerous opportunities to attend industry events and get out to see the innovation we have supported.

One of the most exciting experiences I’ve had so far is visiting Glasgow to see the legacy of our Future Cities Demonstrator. Glasgow used some of the funding to develop the Glasgow Operations Centre, which is an integrated traffic and safety management system (it’s much more interesting than it sounds). It was great to see how it has brought together various departments into one centre, and how it will improve citizen’s lives. It also looks amazing! Going to Innovate 2015 was also a really exciting day – having so many innovative companies in one space was impressive and I think anyone would struggle to leave without feeling motivated about what we do.

Working at Innovate has allowed me to build a good understanding of the UK’s innovation ecosystem, and the various funding opportunities for business. It has also given me a good knowledge of new business models and potential future markets. Through all the different training given to the graduates I have been able to work on my networking and presentation skills. Just last month I had the chance to chair a panel at a 400 person showcase event we held, which is something I didn’t think I’d be doing 6 months into the role!

I’m looking forwards to what the next 6 months will bring.

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