When I was nineteen, my Dad had a kidney transplant. I’d known for a long time that I wanted a career that involved helping people, but it was then, when my family were the beneficiaries of what I see as the ultimate donation, that I realised I wanted to dedicate my career to the charity sector – it made me see the importance of charitable acts.
Charityworks seemed like the ideal route into that for me – the programme provides a graduate role and a wealth of opportunity as well as plenty of support for my personal development. I was placed at SHP (Single Homeless Project), which is a London-based homeless charity running a range of supported housing, hostels and floating support services to help prevent homelessness and those at risk of homelessness across the city. I work as the Business Development Assistant and I support the Head of Business Development, writing tenders to win new business.
There’s a huge need for our services, as the government doesn’t have a duty to house single homeless people, and my job allows me to get involved in identifying gaps in our service provision at the moment and to develop ideas around new projects. It doesn’t always feel it, but the role is very strategic. I also get to work with senior management, which is very cool – getting real insight into the high-level of how a charity is run. I get to sit in on business planning meetings and hear people’s ideas about how the business should develop. I don’t think I would have had that opportunity in any other graduate role.
As well as my placement, my favourite parts of the Charityworks programme has been the support of the peer network and especially my peer coach. At the start of the year, everyone was paired up to meet and coach one another through any problems we may have – it’s a great platform for one-to-one reflecting and gives a chance to reflect on your own progress. It’s helped me to think through what I want out of my career and how things at work are going. We each also have a professional mentor. My mentor is amazing – it’s been great to know that there’s a confidential space with someone who’s more mature, has an overview of the sector and knows how to navigate the early stages of a career.
There have been challenges – managing workload and managing working relationships can be hard, like in any career when you’re starting out, but Charityworks have been great in preparing us and helping us to devise strategies for dealing with things as they come up. Another big challenge is seeing how much more work there is to be done out there and just not having the funding to help everyone – I think it’s something a lot of people that work in the charity sector have to battle with. But I have to remind myself that the position I’m in now puts me in a much better place to grow and develop in my career so one day I can be in a position to make a real change.
To anyone thinking of applying to Charityworks for 2017, or looking to work in the sector in general, I’d say go for it! I’ve had to be persistent and stay resilient but it really is worth it.