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Fundraising and Marketing Graduate Trainee: Inspire Me

By UCL Careers, on 3 February 2015

As part of our #UCLInspireMe series,Tara Protheroe, Graduate Trainee (Fundraising & Marketing) at Cancer Research UK, talks to us about how she decided to undertake a career in the Charity sector.

Firstly, here’s a little contextual info about me. I’m 23, I went to the University of York, and I graduated in 2012 with a 2:1 in English Literature. Finding my first job was initially challenging; although I had a CV full of skills, university positions and part-time jobs, I lacked a professional internship or in-office work experience.  Tara Protheroe


So, how did I get into my role?

I’d always thought I’d like to get into marketing and applied to multiple jobs in my 3rd year with little success. My lack of office experience was holding me back, so I started looking for internships.


I didn’t actively seek a charity role, but came across Cancer Research UK and was impressed by the variety of internships available.


I secured a role in Innovation Marketing, working on the Dryathlon campaign. After 3 months at CRUK I knew I wanted to stay; the work was stimulating and I was truly passionate about the cause. There weren’t any permanent roles available so I (successfully) applied for the graduate scheme.

What are the best things about working in my role?

I’d say the best thing about the CRUK Grad Scheme is the variety and the quality of the work we’re given.


We stay in each department for six months and work on an independent project. Where we go is partly dependent on business need, but there’s a lot of scope for us to choose roles based on our preferences. The responsibility we’re afforded is also a real benefit.


The organisational culture is fantastic. We’re frequently reminded of our core purpose in our daily work and surroundings.

What are the biggest challenges I face in my work?

Changing projects every six months makes the work more interesting, but also allows you less time to settle in and excel. Similarly, the responsibility and autonomy I am provided with makes it imperative that I motivate and organise myself effectively, which can be tough.


The size of the organisation can also be a challenge; there are so many different departments it can be difficult to keep track of and work effectively with all of your stakeholders.


What top tips would you pass on to a student interested in this type of work?

Start early! Think about what you want out of a career in your first year and try to gain relevant experience. But if you haven’t, don’t despair, there’s still plenty you can do.

If you want to work for a charity, think of the type of role you’re interested in – marketing, finance, etc., and look for work experience in those areas. You don’t have to have charity experience to work for a charity; it’s the transferable skills that are important.

If you’re working full time or an internship isn’t possible, there are still ways you can volunteer your time and gain skills in the process. If you’re interested in events, consider organising a fundraising event yourself, such as Relay for Life. If media or communications are your thing, write a blog, or approach a smaller charity and see if you can help them with their publications in your spare time.

The most important factor for any role, but particularly this sector, is passion. Would I have got the job had I not done an internship? I don’t believe I would – without it I wouldn’t have had the requisite passion, knowledge and confidence to impress at interview.

If you’re interested in a career in the Charity sector, visit Careers Tagged and find over 400 resources to get you started.

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