While I was at Cambridge I spent my last year in considerable angst over what I wanted to do when I graduated. I was clear, however, that I wanted to do something productive and more or less “good” with my career. So, I spent a fair amount of time going to careers fairs and talks on how to get started in the not-for-profit sector.
Like many humanities students, I struggled to know how I could use those transferable skills we’ve heard so much about. I was also fairly sure I didn’t want to follow my fellow classicists into law conversion courses or teaching. Even so, when looking at job vacancies in the charity sector, they all seemed to want masses of qualifications and professional experience — something I certainly didn’t have.
It was at one of these careers fairs that I came across the Worthwhile stand. After an interesting chat, I went home and straight away applied for their graduate scheme. One application form and one interview day followed before I was offered a place on their panel. From there I was encouraged to submit my CV for a variety of opportunities with small organisations across a range of locations. In the end, the summer after I graduated I started as Sales and Marketing Coordinator at a London-based social enterprise, OxFizz (google it! It has some great volunteering opportunities to raise money for charities you want to support).
The Worthwhile scheme was fantastic for a number of reasons:
- Worthwhile organised monthly training for us on a broad range of topics — from resilience to co-operatives to balance sheets
- I was also matched up to an experienced mentor who was really helpful in discussing my future direction and job applications
- My peers on the scheme were wonderful and it was great to meet them every month for a chat, moan, or to share ideas
- The year helped me pin down the areas of work I enjoyed and was interested in. For example, I knew I was interested in an organisation that does good but with a commercial bent, and this placement confirmed that. Indeed, I now work in a commercial role in the civil service
- When the time came to start looking for a new job, I had many more examples to use for competency questions. I also felt much more confident in a professional setting with work examples to back up my application
- While I moved on, several of my cohort stayed at their host organisations or found roles elsewhere in the charity sector. I think it’s true for all of us that the Worthwhile scheme gave us a leg up in the direction we wanted to go — whether a charity, social enterprise, further study, or like me, the public sector.
After I finished my placement with OxFizz I went on to join the commercial scheme of the Civil Service Fast Stream. This choice is certainly a little different to others from my Worthwhile cohort but I really enjoy the scale of the difference I can make here. The sums are huge, if I can save some tax payers’ money with a contract or improve service delivery for the end users, it continues to fit my “do some good” career requirement!