Warwick sociology graduate Graciella continues her series of articles to raise awareness of opportunities in the voluntary and charitable sectors. This week she spoke to another Warwick graduate who joined Asthma UK after graduation and who is now working for Bloodwise, a leading blood cancer charity.
Formerly known as Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research, Bloodwise is the UK’s leading blood cancer research charity. Blood cancer is the fifth most common cancer in Britain and the third biggest cause of cancer-related deaths. Bloodwise funds leading research, provides accessible information to those affected, and campaigns for better treatments.
What might a Bloodwise employee look like?
You will be the type of person who is self-motivated, resilient, and enthusiastic. You are passionate about making a difference and enjoy inventing new ideas to share with your team. You are organised and conscientious, finding thoughtful ways to thank those who support your campaigns.
I am part of the Sports Events Team which manages both third-party and major events, including runs, cycles, triathlons and treks. For example, I look after the London Marathon, the Great North Run, and Ride London. My role requires me to organise events from start to finish: recruiting participants, reviewing marketing strategies, supporting fundraising, sending out communications, and organising event-day logistics.
A typical day…
I usually begin by reading and replying to emails from supporters; you get lots of fundraising queries and event-day questions, but also general updates on how fundraising and training is going! A huge part of my role is stewardship. I manage five different events at different points during the year, so keeping track of supporters on their stewardship journeys is really important.
This week, I sent ‘thank you’ letters to our Royal Parks Half-Marathon runners and 80 (handwritten!) Christmas cards for our London Marathon team. We also started recruiting for the 2019 Great North Run. Every week, our team has a stand-up (a meeting) where we update the big whiteboard behind us with all our events. This helps us identify how many participants are signed up, how much income we received and any upcoming priorities.
Alongside my day job…
Working at a charity means that there are a lot of great opportunities to volunteer, whether this be at other Sports events or our annual Christmas Carol Concert at the Royal Albert Hall.
- Accredited Qualification: First-aid training
- Opportunities: Attend conferences and roundtable discussions, meet and learn from other charities across the sector.
- Development: Weekly 1-2-1s with a manager to talk about personal development and opportunities to get involved in other projects.
- Rewarding: Working in charity allows you to speak to amazing people who are passionate about your cause. Your job is so worthwhile because you see the impact your charity makes!
- Great work-life balance: Charity workers might not get paid as much as employees in other sectors, but I cannot emphasise how nice having a healthy work-life balance is as a graduate. You have your whole life to stay late or work ridiculous hours. Don’t be fooled though – the charity sector can still be competitive!
How is performance managed and assessed?
Although I am not on a graduate scheme, I am still assessed. I have been in my role since September so am still in a probationary period made up of a 3-month review and a 6-month review – after which my probation should end (hopefully!).
What advice would you give to anyone thinking of going straight into a role?
After finishing my degree at Warwick I worked at Asthma UK as a Community and Events Fundraising Assistant for fifteen months. It was a great entry-level role which allowed me, for example, to manage income-lines for fundraisers, maintain fundraising accounts on social media, support with sports events and coordinate our annual Carol Concert. I learnt so much about different aspects of the charity and this shows that you do not need to do a graduate scheme to get variation and breadth of experience. I also developed my confidence; I was quite nervous about public speaking when I started but given the opportunity to deliver lots of presentations (both external and internal), I’ve grown more comfortable doing it.
I decided against graduate schemes for two reasons. The first was because there are simply not as many graduate schemes for the charity sector and I was rejected from those that I applied to. The second was that I wasn’t entirely sure which sector I wanted to work in. After six months, I realised I’d enjoy coordinating sports events and since I wasn’t on a grad scheme, I had the flexibility to move. It is also important to remember that an entry-level job might not happen as far in advance as grad schemes (which generally recruit in winter of final-year). I was offered my role at Asthma UK in April and started in July – so don’t panic!
My main piece of advice to those looking to work in the charity sector is to get experience while you are still at university. With a community like Warwick, this is really easy. You have opportunities with local charities (e.g. Guide Dogs, Leamington Winter Support), Warwick RAG, and Warwick Volunteers. Not only does this help you with your CV, but it also helps you to identify which cause you’d like to support. Many charity internships are unpaid, but most charities offer flexible volunteering opportunities!
Interested in exploring charity-related opportunities? Here are some resources to get you started:
Warwick Volunteers is free to join!