JamboreeWhat’s a jamboree? The dictionary would have you believe that it’s either a large party or a rally of scouts and guides. I’m not sure how it got its name, but the NAO jamboree two weeks ago was something different entirely (although there were balloons and at least two types of cake, so maybe it was a party).

The jamboree is a chance for the many teams and areas at the NAO to meet with colleagues, tell them what they do and how to get involved. Each team sets up a stall in the auditorium and trainees can wander round during lunchtime, asking questions, picking up freebies, and generally absorbing information from the multimedia displays around the room. The first half hour is reserved for our new intake of graduates and school leavers, then the doors are thrown open to colleagues from across the office.

I counted 29 different stalls vying for attention, using an impressive variety of enticements to attract people to their tables. I don’t know why they were competing really, as there was plenty of time for everyone, but it did add a certain buzz (not to mention calories) to the room. There were quizzes, displays, banners, balloons, slideshows, videos, games, and a range of tasty edible treats.

As well as various sections of the office such as HR, Corporate Finance, IT and Facilities, various staff networks were represented. These include the networks for Disability; Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender; Women; Religion and Diversity and Ethnic Minorities. Joining these networks is a good way of meeting like-minded colleagues and working together to foster diversity.

I was representing the Trade Union, and we opted for home-made cakes and colourful leaflets to attract our audience. It seemed to work, and it was especially nice to recognise faces I’d seen at the Knowing Me, Knowing You session a couple of weeks ago, and to hear how they had got on at college. The results of the first two exams were out early that morning, so the relief in room was palpable!

At the table next to me was fellow blogger Michael who was representing the Language Pool. The NAO has a significant number of fluent multi-linguists. Their names go into a database which colleagues can search if they need translation services.

Opposite I could see the Pop Quiz table, which was showing a video of teams in their costumes from the fantastically popular quiz event of the year. Next to them was the Student Reps table where trainees could find out about the student forum and meet their reps face to face.

I asked some of our new colleagues about the most memorable stall, and they nominated the Delivering Major Programmes stall for their “Play Your Cards Right” game. This was like the game on TV but instead of playing cards it was based on figures such as the value of the Ministry of Defence’s assets and the Department of Transport’s payroll.

At the end of lunchtime the trainees made their way to their next induction event and the stall holders were left to tidy up the leftovers – just like a party!

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