Photo of Lou Hodges with colleagues from the Recycling and Waste team
Lou Hodges with colleagues from the Recycling and Waste team

“Be prepared to do things that make you feel uncomfortable and keep doing them at every opportunity.” This is the advice given by one apprentice – nearly 10 years after joining East Devon District Council (EDDC).

EDDC is sharing the stories of its apprentices and where they are now, sharing their career advice to those wanting to follow similar paths, as part of National Careers Week (March 4th – 9th).

About Lou:

Lou Hodges is an Operations and Projects Officer in the Recycling and Waste Department.

She has a very varied role dealing with the daily operations of the Recycling and Waste Service, giving guidance to developers and landlords, helping residents, and leading on allocated projects and managing data sets to inform our operations and development projects.

Lou originally joined the council in a different department and was given the opportunity to take a sidestep into another department – a move that paid off. She said: “That was seven years ago. It sounds cheesy, but I genuinely love my job. It is so varied, I’m doing something different every day, managing my own time and workload, with good people around me.

“I never imagined this is what I would be doing. And how many different directions this career path can go. It was a happy surprise that I’m now doing something I’m very passionate about.”

What advice would you give to someone wanting to follow a similar path?

“Don’t be afraid to take a risk and ask for what you’d like. What’s the worst that will happen? They might say no. If you are thinking about taking a sidestep like me but want more information and to know if it is the right opportunity for you, ask if you can meet the team, and see what the role is really like in real life. The more you know, the less of a risk it is. Especially at EDDC, we would be more than happy to help.”

What advice would you give someone wanting to make sure they are ready for a promotion if one comes up?

"Take as many training opportunities as you can. The more you know allows you to be the best you can be, and as ready for the next step as possible. Skills are the currency of your future."

How to get the experience needed for the next step up, when you can only get the experience you need by taking the next step up?

“Prepare yourself academically, with training. But then ask your manager for their backing and to be your supportive net and communicate what opportunities they are. Also, ask to shadow on projects that you normally wouldn’t be involved in and get involved. Allow yourself to gain that experience you need."

What’s the best piece of careers advice someone has given you?

“Be prepared to do things that make you feel uncomfortable and keep doing them at every opportunity – some advice from my current manager. I hate doing PowerPoints and he makes me do them all the time; it’s allowed me to become better at them. I still don’t enjoy them, but I am much better at doing them.”