How a graduate scheme can help your career

In 2014, we launched the CityWest Homes Academy Graduate Scheme. The aim is to help graduates take their first step into the world of housing, and gain the experience they need to further their career.

Our first participants, Gary Allen and Nathan Laurencin, joined CityWest Homes a month ago. We caught up with them to find out how their placements are going.

- 1. What made you apply for the scheme?

Gary: I was really drawn to the flexibility of it. I have always been interested in the housing sector, especially when it comes to social inequality and injustice. I felt housing was a great place to help others and make a difference. That’s why at age 41 I decided to leave behind a career in retail management and do a housing degree at Southbank University. Following an internship at the National Housing Federation, I applied for the scheme at CityWest Homes because it seemed like a fantastic way to train. While you’re under direction, you also have the freedom to learn the way that works best for you and in several areas of the business. During the year, I’ll be working in CityWest Direct south, finance and policies and projects.

Nathan: I’ve always been passionate about housing. I had done an internship before focusing on social mobility and housing. Aged 24, I’ve now finished my degree and want to stay in the housing sector. An internship like this is a great way to learn because it gives you training as you work. With other schemes like this you can only learn about one aspect of the business. The CityWest Homes scheme appealed to me because it allows me to choose several areas through the year. In a sense, I can tailor it to learn about the areas I want to work in. I will be working in CityWest Direct central, community partnerships, resident relations and CityWest Homes Residential.

- 2. You both seem to be settling in well. What are you enjoying the most?

Gary: It’s only been a few weeks but I feel settled already. The team really help me to feel part of the organisation. Everyone is approachable and open to your ideas. Also, I can learn the way that works best for me as the scheme is so flexible. While you’re being guided, you can also learn, discuss your ideas and have a hands on approach to the role.

Nathan: The people have a great team spirit. Staff support each other and it feels like a nice place to work. It gives you good foundations for dealing directly with tenants. When you realise the challenges which people are facing today, it’s great to see all the things staff do to help them.

- 3. Would you recommend a scheme like this to other graduates?

Gary: Definitely. Being able to work in different areas of the business is a fantastic opportunity to learn the ropes. Plus, the scheme is completely inclusive and open to graduates of all ages. I’ve always wanted to get into housing, so I’m glad I took this step.

Nathan: Absolutely. I’ve had a lot of support and people are always there to help. I never feel scared to ask questions. It’s fantastic having such a flexible learning schedule to help me learn at the pace that’s right for me.

- 4. Since life’s not all about work, what are your passions in life?

Gary: I’m a family guy through and through. Most of my weekends are already planned with my wife and kids. I do still get involved in housing outside of work though, as I currently sit on the Croydon housing scrutiny panel.

Nathan: I’m a traveller. It’s fantastic to have a steady income now. I can save up to move closer to London and do some travelling in the future. Part of my business management degree was learning another language and I chose Spanish, so I’d love to learn another language too.

If you have any queries about the scheme, please contact the human resources team on 020 7245 2048 or humanresources@cwh.org.uk.


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