Riding the tide of opportunity

Aaron Wheeldon, Graduate Trainee,
Isle of Wight Council

By Aaron Wheeldon, Graduate Trainee, 
Isle of Wight Council.

I was born and raised on this island twenty-one years ago, having attended Somerton Middle and Cowes High School in a bygone era of education. I continued at Cowes as it transitioned into the current Cowes Enterprise College where I studied my A-Levels and became particularly interested in dystopian literature. Eventually, as a result of this growing interest in politics, I chose to study International Relations at the University of Southampton. I graduated with a Bachelor of Science three years later and it came time to pursue a career in the busy (and incredibly competitive) graduate market. I never saw my future on the island – throughout my childhood, it never struck me as an environment for opportunity. However, here I am, as the tide of opportunity turns for the island.

As a graduate working at the Isle of Wight Council, there are many things that have surprised me. In the lead up to accepting the role, I was told many things about working in government and the public sector – but the benefits of this mostly revolved around pensions and job stability.

What I have found since, nearing my second full month in this organisation, is a dynamic workplace that allows its employees autonomy and opportunity. Early on in my career, I have been entrusted with great responsibility and ability to make a tangible difference. I am currently working alongside the Assistant Chief Executive, drafting and assessing a commercialisation strategy to produce new income sources. This project has allowed me to gain valuable insights in the operations with many different services areas – working closely with Shared Services and understanding their day-to-day operations and performance models, meeting various managers and directors responsible for the island’s Adult Social Care, or building networking links with various councils from across the country. This role – and the opportunity provided to me – allows me to tackle such a complex headache with (responsibly managed) freedom and creativity; to think intuitively and apply ideas as solutions to real challenges.

It’s a well-known cliché, but with my experience within this role, it is hard to say that any two days are the same. Over the course of six weeks, I have already been given the opportunity to develop my own personal skills – gaining globally recognised practitioner qualifications in PRINCE2, the UK’s preeminent project management framework, and Better Business Cases. I can verifiably testify that I have already grown as a professional individual due to this role – continuously adding new strings to my bow and polishing my arsenal.

But what I found most exciting is the possibility of potential – and how real it seems. Over the next two years, I will be able to steer and influence a further three projects critical to the islands regeneration. Over the next two years, who knows what kind of impact there could have been. The journey in between is mine and I am relishing to see where it takes me.