Career Advice

Alumni Stories: Natalie Banfield

Paul Brown
01.08.2018 Published: 01.08.18, Modified: 01.08.2018 14:08:13

With thousands of graduates, Ex-Forces personnel and returners to work coming through our centres every year, our FDM alumni group has grown to become a proud hub for our former consultants. Natalie Banfield first joined the company back in 2012 but had a rather unique introduction to the FDM family. Reflecting on her time at FDM, Natalie explains why she chose to join the academy and how she overcame hurdles in the programme.

Having just graduated with a degree in Business Information Systems and completing a pretty awesome ski season, I really didn’t know where to start and how to kick-start my career in IT.

After spotting a job advertisement for a receptionist in Brighton at FDM, an IT company with a very attractive looking graduate programme, I decided to apply, because a foot in the door was what I really needed. During the interview I was advised I was eligible to join the graduate programme, however still unsure on my career objectives (other than wanting to work in IT), I decided to take the receptionist role and learn more about the company and how it worked. I was lucky that the role of receptionist allowed me to interact with people from across the organisation from the sales team in Brighton, to the trainers in London, Frankfurt and Hong Kong and the senior management team.  Once fully immersed at FDM, I decided to join the Project Management Office stream.

My journey through the FDM training was nothing without its challenges. The technical elements were daunting (I’m no techy!) but the support and guidance the trainers provided both inside and outside of training hours was invaluable.

My placement was a brilliant learning curve and one which I am most proud of. By January 2013 (nine months after starting at FDM) I was in my first placement at Direct Line Group, working as an IT Communications Analyst for a major project, applying the skills I’d not only learnt from the academy, but also from my time on reception. I was working in a new corporate environment, in a position which was completely new to me and provided with the opportunity to work with senior stakeholders on a daily basis. I was also lucky enough to be placed with six other FDM’ers I’d trained with, providing me with an extra support network for the entirety of my placement – I couldn’t have asked for more.

I worked at Direct Line Group for a year and a half and I remember finishing there on a Friday, and securing a new placement at a popular bank on the Monday.

Even though I’ve now left FDM, I am always reminded how important the network I made both from my days on reception and from my time in the Academy is to me, and how pivotal FDM was to my career because without their support and guidance, it wouldn’t have been possible.

My top tip: Don’t be afraid to try and break the mould! I’ve learnt so much throughout my career so far, from roles I didn’t even think I could excel at, but with the right support around you, you have nothing to lose – go for it!

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