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“Countryside’s Graduate Conference is a real highlight” by Grace Alderson

Grace Alderson, 23, is a Graduate Trainee at Countryside. She started the graduate programme in October 2018, having completed a BA in Architecture. Grace was excited to take part in Countryside’s Graduate Conference; here she gives an outline of the event.

On my first day at Countryside, I was immediately given a really friendly welcome, which instantly put me at ease. I went out for lunch with my mentor, as well as other graduates and members of the team I was joining for my first rotation. It was a fantastic introduction to the business.

I was excited to learn that I would be attending Countryside’s first ever Graduate Conference. The conference served a dual purpose – to welcome new graduates, like me, and to celebrate those that had completed the two-year programme.

The conference was held over two days and all the Countryside graduates attended. It was great to have the opportunity to meet other people on the programme, who had first-hand experience of what it’s like - at all stages - to be a graduate at Countryside. Though I see the other graduates in training sessions, masterclasses and around the office, it was great to start the programme by getting us all together – we have a shared experience now, which really helps when you’re settling into a new role.

Over the two days, Countryside’s senior team presented a thorough overview of the business and its strategy. Ian Sutcliffe, Countryside’s Group Chief Executive, and Rebecca Worthington, Group Chief Operating Officer, explained how Countryside is structured, as well as its goals and vision. Mike Scott, Group Chief Financial Officer, outlined Countryside’s financial processes, and Countryside’s Group HR Director, Nick Worrall, spoke about its values and ethos.

Almost all the information was new, and by the end I felt like I had a full understanding of Countryside and the key drivers of the business. I think it’s so important to have had this kind of introduction to the Group: now I can put my work in context and understand how each department, and each person, contributes to Countryside’s overall success.

It was also great to get so much time with the senior team. The fact that they were prepared to sacrifice two days to helping us get to grips with all things Countryside shows how invested everyone is in the graduate programme and the company’s future. There are so many opportunities to learn, develop and progress - I’m not surprised that Countryside is so highly ranked within the industry for graduates.

In the two years I spend as a graduate at Countryside, I will complete multiple rotations, ranging from four weeks to six months, in various different departments. There will be so much to learn and I’m excited to take it all on. Having attended the Graduate Conference, I am pleased I will be able to approach the programme with a solid understanding of the business. I’m sure it will stand me in good stead for the future and allow me to make the most of this great opportunity. 

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Grace Alderson, 23, started the graduate programme in October 2018, having completed a BA in Architecture.