learnfest2015Last week saw many of us come together again for Learnfest, a full week of lectures and activities to help us improve our knowledge in a range of areas. The timing of the week between interim and final audit is when many staff are in the office and outside of the busy periods, in order to maximise numbers able to attend.

The talks on offer are a mix of those being directly relevant to our work, others related to personal development and many to help expand our knowledge or IT software skills. There were also classes in some pretty fun activities that many people in the office may not have tried – cheerleading and hip hop dancing being two opportunities on offer.

Whilst I decided to keep my innate talent in those areas to myself for now, I did manage to get to quite a few other events. A political history professor from Sussex University presented us with some pre-election insight on how the 3 main parties use and distort their historical identities in order to focus their campaigns according to the public sentiment at the time. Peter Young, the Chairman of the Aldersgate Group – an alliance of leaders focused on a sustainable economy – offered an interesting session on why sustainability was being driven more by the private sector than the public sector. I attended a session about how to put my accounting and economics knowledge to good use through volunteering for AfID, which helps small businesses in developing countries, and Pro Bono Economics, giving UK charities help with essential (and usually costly) data analysis.

I also learned about the issues around developing solid infrastructure in the UK and improved my knowledge of MKi, the petulant audit software we use in the office. And whilst my decision to go to a session on the functionality of Microsoft Lync was in no way influenced by hearing that they were giving out portable phone battery chargers, I did learn more than I thought I would about how to get the most out of it.

The Festival of Learning came to a close in front of a packed auditorium for what was possibly the most anticipated talk of the week. Ed Stafford, an adventurer who can claim to be the first (and as yet, only) person to walk the full length of the Amazon river, gave a talk about the journey’s highlights, lowlights and lessons learned from his two and a half year trip. Some would say there are few similarities between ex-army explorers and public sector auditors, and some advice such as making sure we carry enough snake-venom remedy is not too relevant to our working life. But he taught us lessons on the necessity of support from colleagues, motivation, self belief, and perseverance. In return, he could have learned a bit from the NAO about the value of detailed planning – on arriving in South America for the epic adventure he admitted he hadn’t researched where the river actually started. The round of applause at the end was both for the fascinating talk and a well organised, enlightening week.

Last chance to apply – applications close 31 March

If you want to apply for our 2015 graduate training scheme, you can only do so until Tuesday, 31 March 2015. Head over to our graduate recruitment site for further information.

If you’ve got any questions around the application process, please leave a comment below. You can also contact our recruitment team by email, via our Facebook page, or on Twitter.

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