Here at Warwick we have recently held a “Careers in Charities, Campaigning and Volunteering event”. Four speakers from different backgrounds took part all linked by their passion and drive to “help”. Their clear advice for anyone thinking of going into the career’s sector is to get experience! Camilla and Yuan of Warwick Volunteers committee share some more insights from the different speakers.
Charlotte Rook is a senior coordinator from the Personal Support Unit (PSU), an independent charity that supports families going through civil legal proceedings without legal help. Her advice for those wanting to work in the third sector is to be realistic. Remuneration will be lower than for an equivalent job in other sectors. This is primarily due to the uncertain funding received by third sector organisations. There are, however, benefits of working in the third sector: creative work and good employers. The work is never mundane and employers are often generous in approving holiday requests. If you want to find work you’ll need to demonstrate good communication skills and experience in the sector. You’ll be expected to empathise and deliver client support.
Masami Duble, works as a recovery support officer at Mosaic Clubhouse, which ‘organises support to help people living with mental illness to re-join the worlds of friendship, employment and education’. Masami said he learnt what motivates people to work and how to engage with others at his first internship at PSU. He had intended to become a lawyer but the internship changed his mind and he stayed on in the charities sector. Work experience or an internship in the sector you’re interested in is important, and Masami was able to receive payment for his through a Warwick scheme, (if you are at Warwick contact Careers for more information). Masami advocates working in smaller charities because you can get involved in lots of different areas. In larger charities you might find yourself pigeonholed into one department. Don’t be afraid to question your direction and keep an open mind – the sector is huge with many roles and opportunities; the environment keeps changing. Keep an eye out for opportunities that will help you stand out from the crowd. This could involve anything from having a part-time job, to being on an exec at university or volunteering in your spare time – everything counts. Masami said
“Go beyond books, show you can communicate well with others”.
Employers want to know you’re sociable and are capable of putting yourselves “out there”.
Maureen Johnson is a career social worker from Freedom Fostering. She interviews for new staff and doesn’t just want to hear that candidates want to help people. She is looking for passion and an understanding of the difference you could be making in people’s lives. Maureen deals with complicated issues every day. She has a commitment and desire to help people but increasingly, a knowledge of complex government systems and how they impact people’s lives is important. Small mistakes may have life-changing effects on people, you have to be constantly on your toes. You’re constantly learning in the Third Sector!
Social work is not a 9-5 job, and Maureen spoke about the importance of being able to ‘switch off’ at the end of the day. You need resilience, a life outside of work and a sense of humour. There are many positives to social work, your critical reasoning skills develop and you come to understand how people behave. You work as part of a team and are always learning about yourself as your stamina and energy are tested. Your heart must be in the job, you’ve got to be a “glass half-full” sort of person, always able to find something positive, even in the most hopeless of cases.
Joelle Fitch from the Alzheimer’s Society works in the New Partnership Office as a corporate fundraiser. Prior to her current role, she was actively involved during her undergraduate years at the University of Warwick, as a Widening Participation Ambassador, Student Calling Supervisor and Warwick Student Ambassador. The experiences from the positions honed her communication and management skills and ignited a desire to be part of the charitable sector. Her current role includes fundraising from corporations. Resilience is vital because corporations often reject sponsorship proposals.