Now a few months into his graduate programme at the Post Office, we caught up with Mohammed to see how he is finding it.
What does your role entail - could you tell us about what a typical day looks like for you?
For my first six month industry rotation (of three), I'm working in the Post Office's insurance team, Post Office Management Services (POMS). Given the fast-paced nature of POMS, I'm continuously being exposed to different business areas where I'm able to engage with work both concerning and unrelated to insurance. I'm very fortunate to have a line manager who understands that I'm not going to crack insurance in six months, so instead would prefer I engage in a wide variety of tasks, alongside my primary role of improving POMS customer experience performance.
This essentially gives me the freedom to explore and engage with work which interests me. For example, I really enjoy the fact that Post Office has a social purpose, so when I accidentally walked into a meeting regarding a customer vulnerability policy, I was asked if I wanted to sit in and essentially contributed to the policy. So, really, my day to day is about getting involved in different work that is happening all around me - whether that be intentional or not!
What’s been your highlight and most challenging moment so far?
The most challenging task I’ve found so far was trying to figure out how to automate an internal initiative called the Hive. The Hive is a matchmaking system whereby two individuals across the business are once a month randomly matched to meet for coffee and can spend an hour just simply getting to know one another and learn about another business area. The purpose of the Hive was to improve communication across the business and essentially breakdown silos - which it is achieving.
However, there was a lot of manual labour involved when matching individuals, i.e. choosing two names from a list as a match, send them an email confirming their match, repeat 100+ and pray you haven't mismatched somebody who already has a match. Quite a stressful and, more importantly, time consuming task. Having taken over the matchmaking operation, my peer and I (along with help from numerous other people) have successfully automated the matchmaking system turning hours of matchmaking into a simple click of F9. Great challenge and very rewarding.
What are you most looking forward to doing in the next few months?
My current placement ends early April and I'll be moving into my second placement. So far, I'm viewing my three placements as uni years, i.e. my first placement is like my first year of uni - I was clueless, lost and wasn't aware of how to utilise the resources I was surrounded by, be it either my graduate peers or colleagues. So, as my first placement slowly comes to an end, I'm looking forward to my next placement where I'll be a little wiser and be able to really utilise all the resources the Post Office has to offer so that I can effectively deliver business solutions wherever I may be.
If you could give a new graduate/intern any advice for their first few months, what would it be?
The advice I'm sure you'd expect to hear is "to be courageous, be outgoing, talk to everyone and interact with everything!" which, to some degree, has benefits i.e. exposure and such. However, one piece of advice I am grateful for (and still learning to apply) is having patience. Be patient. When you first arrive in any new business you will feel highly motivated and eager to make a lasting impression - don't lose that nor neglect that drive, but channel it, so that you don't overstate your abilities just to impress your colleagues.
When I arrived in my placement I was so excited to show off what I could do and handle tasks of large responsibility. But, in reality, I should have been focusing on building trust between my line manager and I by acing those small tasks. Consistency in my opinion trumps superstar one-off performances. Be prepared to take a step back and learn again, similar to how you would have in uni or wherever. But, above all else, let your actions and performances speak for you. Head into each task you undertake wholeheartedly so that your line manager can begin to see what you're capable of.
Give this entire process time. It will take time, but you will be surprised by how much you benefit from taking pressure off yourself and allowing yourself to learn.