Online courses and exams!

For the past few weeks I have moved home from Planning to Property and Highways. I had really good experiences in the planning department. Since arriving at the new department I have been able to apply what I learned on the LPC when going through the process of buying a property. This department has also enabled me to get to know Gwynedd’s geographical area in much more detail. I’m looking forward to working with two departments as this means a greater variety of work, as well as getting to know more of the Council workforce.

I have also started work on implementing a new law, the Local Government Act which has come into force in 2021. This will mean changes to the way some parts of the Council work. I look forward to working on this project over the coming months. Trying to get my head around the new law means I’ve come to understand how the Council works and the terminology from that too.

Over the past month, I’ve also completed two more modules as part of my qualification. The first of these was a course in Finance and Business Skills. This is the only part of the course that is assessed by an exam. Because I’ve never studied business or economics before the LPC, I’m not very comfortable with business terminology, so this course was quite difficult for me. Although I have just bought a house and started a job, I learned more about mortgages and pensions on this course than I ever have before!

The exam experience for this was strange too. There were limitations around the materials I was allowed to have during the exam, and because the exam was online, I had to have an invigilator who looked at me through my laptop’s webcam, and was able to view and control my screen and mouse!

Several cups of coffee were consumed during this course!

The second course I completed last week was in client care and professional standards. This was specific to ‘in-house’ solicitors and so I was able to speak to several trainees in other Councils across the UK. It was nice to discuss work with people who have been through similar experiences, who are further into their training contract, and were sharing tips. This course focused on conflict, confidentiality, duties, commitments, receiving instructions and time management. What was clear from the discussion about time management was that everyone was going through similar problems from the stress of working from home. As a group we came up with a list of techniques to manage time while working from home, and I want to share some in case it helps someone else:

  1. Online diary management – block out busy times
  2. Start before working hours to get organised
  3. Arrange a day in advance – task list
  4. Daily desk clearance – get focused
  5. Not looking at Teams messages all the time – can interrupt workflow
  6. Have regular breaks from the screen
  7. Schedule meetings in advance – expectations, next steps and use of agenda
  8. ‘drag and drop’ an email into the calendar to create an appointment to complete the task
  9. Email task list
  10. Communication with colleagues is essential

I’m looking forward to developing the skills I’ve started to gain here at the Council and taking on more responsibility as the month’s progress. Hopefully also next time I write the blog, the lockdown situation will be a little better. The days are getting longer, and the weather is improving ‘, Spring will soon be here J.

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