Shona, can you tell us what your day-to-day job involves, typically?
Absolutely not, and that’s the beauty of it. I’m an Integrated Services Graduate, so my work spans across four departments and beyond. My day’s range from running meetings to gathering staff input on the business plan I am putting together, to visiting an outdoor adventure centre for people with disabilities or brainstorming a marketing brochure for a new service we are running. Variety is the spice of life!
Can you describe the main motivating factor for why you joined Charityworks, and what motivates you now in your work? Has that factor changed?
Our country is in desperate need of change. Having studied politics at university, I know this all too well, but I also know the difficulty of making this happen from afar. Therefore, I joined Charityworks to be as close as possible to one of the urgent causes that needs attention in the UK and I get to help our service users in my day job, whilst developing my skills to make long-term, bigger changes through Charityworks too.
My placement has obviously meant I’ve been involved in the issues of disadvantaged people in the country requiring care, specifically people with disabilities. However, what drives me day-to-day is married to the bigger picture, to do my job not just for the disabled people my charity works with, but on a much broader level, to enable our country to change to one which is not leaving large groups of people behind and struggling to cope. My contacts on Charityworks are vital to me, in feeling this wider sense of motivation.
Has your experience in the non-profit sector so far enabled you to develop skills a range of transferable skills important anywhere?
Definitely. I went in to Charityworks with the clear goal of knowing that I want to be a leader in the sector. My manager has facilitated my growth towards a management role through allowing me to run projects from very early on in my placement. For example, I coordinated the creation and writing of the business plan for the coming financial year). I have such responsibility in my workplace that every day I’m developing communication, organisation and management skills, to name a few.
At the same time, Charityworks are developing my leadership potential. Through coaching, mentoring, book groups and monthly sessions, my ideas are constantly being challenged and stretched, to push me to be the best possible leader of social change that I can be.
What do you think is the most important type of support you have received from the Peer Coaching process on the programme?
My Peer Coach has been a lifeline several times this year! Although I have had such a brilliant year, it has, as everything does, contained challenges. She leads me to solutions which I have known all along, she acts as a check and balance to make me do the development activities that I assign myself but push to the bottom of my priority list, and she allows me to get my moans out of my system to have a positive outlook on Monday morning! I am a complete convert to the Peer Coaching system, which I was very sceptical about to start with, and could not recommend the support that this system gives enough.
Do you feel like your networks have grown since joining the programme? Can you describe any interesting networking opportunities that you have had?
My networks have definitely grown. My mentor is opening doors for me through her own networks. Beyond this, the rest of the Charityworks graduates are an incredible bunch of endlessly inspiring people, who are constantly energetic about making a change in this world. I hope that I manage to keep as many of them as possible in my network beyond this year, and am sure that many of them will be future well-known names of the sector.
The most interesting networking opportunity I have had so far to date, was an Employability Coaching day run by Interserve. Charityworks offered us spare places on this event, and a few of us went along to be coached on employability by Interserve’s emerging leaders. It was such a valuable day, especially to prove the importance of cross-sector communication.