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Green Shoots Link-Up

UCL Careers1 February 2017

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As part of Charities and NGOs themed week, we have asked one of the London-based charities attending the Link-Up event to introduce themselves to you in advance.

Muneezay Jaffery tells us about her charity Green Shoots Foundation and the internship opportunities available to UCL students. (The photo shows two interns in the Green Shoots Office in Lavender Hill.)

Please tell us about your charity
Green Shoots Foundation is a small charity set up in 2010, by Jean-Marc Debricon, who aimed to make use of his finance and banking background for more worthwhile and long-term projects. In the past seven years, our small team has established three main programs in seven countries. Our work pertains to skills training, be it medical for HIV treatment in Myanmar, Vietnam and Kyrgyzstan or agriculture skills in Cambodia and the Philippines. We also facilitate educational loans for social entrepreneurship in India.

Green Shoots started out with a microfinance focus but very quickly developed into adopting a skills-based approach. We believe investing in people and, then making loans, improves livelihood opportunities and brings about sustainable transformations. For example, our work in Cambodia for the past three years has focused on updating and bringing sustainable agriculture skills to government run schools in rural areas. Now, as we transition to the next stage, we are taking an enterprise approach and will focus on the cultivation of agri-business ideas. In all our countries of operation we work with trusted local partners rolling out projects on the ground.

What activities have previous UCL interns been involved in whilst volunteering at Green Shoots and what can an intern expect when they first start?
UCL interns have been instrumental in helping us with fundraising in the UK. This can involve everything from managing the database of trusts and foundations, to writing grant applications and researching new opportunities. With a recent intern, we have diversified our fundraising strategy to include the approach of “twining” with local schools. This has proven to be successful as we approach local primary schools to buddy up with schools in Cambodia, exchange letters and photographs but also fundraise with us throughout the year.

How have interns developed their employability whilst they have been working with you?
By working in fundraising candidates, especially those interested in Global Development or charity sector careers, learn the basics of grant writing- what makes a good application and how to structure proposals. Transferable skills such as time keeping, being organised, and writing formal correspondence are also ways interns have developed their employability. Our office environment is quite friendly and laidback. As we share it with another charity, interns are able to participate in team meetings and contribute towards day-to-day running. Whilst at Green Shoots they also get the opportunity to attend relevant training events, panel discussions and make use of networking opportunities.

What advice would you give to UCL students and graduates who may be looking to set up a charity or similar organisation?
Although it might seem out-dated, when it comes to setting up a charity or deciding on a project, thinking in terms of Theory of Change and working backwards is a good way to start. By this I mean, knowing the impact you want to make and then figuring out how to go about it.  This approach also helps tremendously with decision making for activities, setting realistic and achievable goals and constantly thinking about how to measure and report them.

Being transparent and accountable towards the individuals we work with and to donors we raise funds from should be the first rule for being involved in the charity sector and I always find fundraising is a good way to understand that relationship.

Find out more:
http://www.greenshootsfoundation.org/

The Green Shoots Foundation will have a stand at the Charities and NGOs Link Up event this Thursday alongside other organisations including Oxfam, The Children’s Trust, The Challenge, Ark Teacher Training, CharityWorks, Unlocked Graduates, UCL VSU, Sustrans, UCL Amnesty International Society


*Sign up to attend this event via your My UCL Careers account


 

Charities & NGOS Week – Pursue a fulfilling career in this sector

UCL Careers25 January 2017

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Charities and NGOs Week: 30th January – 2nd February 2017

Though important, there is so much more to working in the charities and NGOs sector than shaking a tin, volunteering or delivering aid to those in need on the frontline.  Many charities and NGOs are run as professional businesses that carry out functions such as research and lobbying, as well as raising and redistributing funds.  In the pursuit of addressing human or environmental needs, the sector can be intensely competitive in terms of attracting media attention, funding and other resources.  Most non-profit organisations rely on paid staff as well as volunteers and the sector attracts intelligent people with a passion for their work.

UCL Careers Charities & NGOs Week 2017 aims to dispel some of the myths that surround working within this sector.  Through a series of four events, this themed week will provide students with an opportunity to gain a deeper insight into the diverse range of roles available to them, from campaigning and policy work to international development and disaster relief.  The employer-led insight and applications session will help prepare students to demonstrate their motivation and enthusiasm and ultimately increase their chances of job success.  The final event in the series will provide an excellent opportunity for students to link up with employers, be inspired and pick up some top tips from the experts, who are currently working in the sector.

Charities attending include:

Oxfam
Greenpeace
MacMillan Cancer Support
Save the Children
Sustrans
The Wellcome Trust
Islamic Relief
and more…


For further details about UCL Careers Charities & NGOs Week 2017 including how to book:

http://www.ucl.ac.uk/careers/events/getinto/charitiesandngos

 

 

Programme Manager: Inspire Me

UCL Careers2 July 2015

As part of our #UCLInspireMe series, Nicola Harwood, Programme Manager at the Prince’s Trust, talks to us about how she got this role and shares some tips for UCL students who want to get into the Third Sector.

“I have worked at the Trust for 3 years now, starting off supporting schools with excluded young people, and now managing a programme working with unemployed young people. I have always worked in the charity sector as I love having a job that makes a difference (as clichéd as it sounds). Seeing the difference our programmes make to young people every day makes it all worthwhile and I am not sure I could work in any other way. The best bit is seeing someone who’s struggled finding work and who’s struggled with things in the personal life, suddenly have that light bulb moment where it all comes together and they start to make positive steps forward in their life. The biggest challenge is that sometimes it’s hard to switch off. The job is so varied I can be writing a business plan for next year one minute, and supporting a young person with their personal issues the next. I love how varied it is, but sometimes it can be hard to balance my time between the two given they are both crucial parts of my role.

My advice to anyone who’s wanting to get into working in the third sector would be to volunteer. I have complimented my career with a whole  host of volunteering opportunities starting when I was at university and continuing it throughout my career. This has not only given me more experience with working with vulnerable people, but it’s also strengthened my applications for jobs. Also make sure you have some real office experience too. My first job after graduating involved a lot of photocopying like everyone’s but it also gave me vital office experience and skills, which alongside my volunteering really helped secure that first real job.”

To find out more about Charity roles, visit Careers Tagged. For Volunteering opportunities, visit the Volunteering Services Unit at UCLU

 

Considering the charity sector? The pros and cons

UCL Careers22 January 2015

Aaron Marchant from All About Group, gives us his take on the pros and cons of the Charity sector. Don’t forget to register for our Charities and NGOs week starting w/c 2nd Feb 2015!

When hunting for a career, many students don’t consider the charity and not-for-profit sector, choosing instead to focus on other career routes. Here are some pros and cons about working in the sector which might give you something new to think about.

Salary

Ok, so you probably won’t be earning huge amounts of money as soon as you graduate. Starting salaries tend to average between £20,000 and £25,000. These can rise over time to £40,000+ after five to ten years, with the potential to go even higher.

Working environment

Working in the not-for-profit and charity sector often results in an interesting and varied working day. If you choose to work in a support-based role, you’ll be moving between locations and coming into direct contact with clients. This type of work will be especially hands-on – you could be working on outdoor projects or helping vulnerable members of society. Alternatively, you might be based in an office, liaising with support workers and other industry professionals. This would involve the sorts of things you would expect from most office environment, such as more regular hours.

Something different

If you’re interested in making a real difference to society, or you want to work abroad, then charity work is something you should consider. For example, if you choose to work in International Aid & Development, there will be plenty of opportunities for travel. These might range from short trips to assess a situation to working abroad on long term projects. Closer to home, you’ll be able to make noticeable differences to the communities around you.

Open to everyone

Whether you’re doing a law degree, considering a job in the creative arts, or working on a new app, there is something for everyone in the not-for-profit sector. For example, if you’ve been considering graduate finance jobs, the charity sector needs financiers just as much as other companies do. You’ll be able to put your skills to good use whilst giving back to society. Similarly, a creative student might be interested in running community theatre or putting on art events. Whatever your background, there’s more opportunity in the sector than meets the eye.

The bare bones – pros and cons

Pros:

  • Challenging
  • You can make a difference every day
  • Variety of working options
  • Opportunities for travel and working abroad

Cons:

  • Can often be emotional
  • Relatively low potential earnings
  • Sometimes stressful

The not-for-profit and charity sector, therefore, has a lot to offer. Whether you’re someone who is passionate about helping others, want to use your knowledge in a social context, or just wants to try something different, it’s a career well worth considering.

Aaron Marchant works at www.allaboutcareers.com, a careers advice service for students and graduates

Register for the UCL Careers Charities and NGOs week here: http://www.ucl.ac.uk/careers/events/getinto

 

Head of Child Safety Online: Inspire Me

UCL Careers14 October 2014

As part of our #UCLInspireMe series, Claire Lilley Head, Head of Child Safety Online, NSPCC talks to us about how she got his role and shares some tips for UCL students who want to get into the Charity sector.

Background Claire-Lilley

I am Head of Online Safety at the NSPCC.  I started my working life as a secondary teacher (which I loved) but after 4 years decided I wanted to see what other jobs existed beyond the world of education.  I resigned from teaching with no job to go to, but knowing I could supply teach if necessary to make ends meet. I had to bite the bullet and take a big pay cut, but was lucky enough to get a job as a researcher for Which? Magazine which I did for 4 years, during which time I did a part time Masters in Public Policy and Management. This meant I could apply for a policy role at Which?, working on education and health policy (Which? is a consumer charity as well as a magazine).

However, I’d always felt passionate about working with or on behalf of vulnerable children, so after a couple of years started looking around for jobs in children’s charities. I didn’t have any experience of policy related to child protection, which was a real disadvantage, but at one interview was offered a maternity cover role.  It was a risk to leave a steady job at Which? for a short term contract at the NSPCC but it paid off because at the end of the maternity cover I was offered a full time job, and have been at the NSPCC in a variety of roles ever since.

What I do day to day

I love my job because it is so varied. My brief covers all aspects of child safety online including child abuse images, online grooming, cyberbullying, sexting and access to inappropriate content online.  I am responsible for the policy (the ‘what the NSPCC thinks’) on all these issues, as well as for coordinating the NSPCC’s programme of activities in relation to them – the projects we get involved in , the services we provide, the research we commission, the organisations we partner with, the way we work with ChildLine (our sister brand), the information we provide for parents and professionals working with children. The ultimate aim is to keep children safe when they are using the internet.

What I do day to day NSPCC

The sorts of things I have to do include: writing detailed policy briefings; advising our CEO and Trustees on our position on different issues; meeting with other charities to try to come up with innovative solutions; influencing technology companies; briefing MPs and civil servants; giving presentations at conferences, meeting with children, parents and professionals to get their views, commissioning research, giving media interviews and lots more! I learn something new every day, which I love, have a lot of autonomy to make decisions, and work with a really dedicated and supportive team of people.  And of course, the chance to make a difference to children’s lives is a big driver in my job satisfaction.

Change doesn’t happen quickly though, and sometimes it is frustrating that the things you know will help to make a difference take so long to get off the ground. A challenge in my job is staying focused on the activities that will have the biggest impact on children’s safety.  When you work for a big charity like the NSPCC, lots of people want to get your opinion about e.g. the latest app they have developed, and it can be easy to get distracted from your main goals or projects by all the interesting new things happening in the fast moving technology sector.

Top Tips

My tips for working in the public policy sector are to be flexible and take a few calculated risks at the early stages of your career. Try to get experience of the different elements which you’ll need later on as you move into more strategic positions – policy, research, public affairs, and if possible some service user experience.  Don’t intern for too long and don’t hold out for the ideal first job – it’s easier to get a job when you are in an organisation as lots of jobs are only advertised internally, so don’t think you’re too qualified to take a PA job at first! Consider a Masters degree as these are increasingly necessary, and try to identify an area of policy that you are passionate about and can develop a golden thread about throughout your career.  In my case it is children’s issues, but it might be animals, environmental, medical related, housing etc.

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

Webinar: CVs and covering letters for the charity sector

UCL Careers29 May 2014

This blog post originally appeared on the Develop your Career blog

Are you considering a career in the charity sector? Unsure how to write an effective CV and covering letter that really communicate your passion and motivations? Want to know what charity employers are really looking for at this first stage of the selection process?

On Monday 9th June 2014, 1-2pm we’re bringing together a small panel of charity employers to ask them what they look for in CVs and covering letters and how those looking to work in the charity sector can make the most of their skills and experience on paper. As part of this discussion we’ll be asking panellists to critique a small selection of genuine CVs and covering letters submitted to us by University of London students and recent graduates.

We’ll be broadcasting this discussion live via a FREE webinar –  participants will be able to view the CVs on screen and listen to the accompanying discussion, as well as having the chance to put their own questions to the panel. Our panel of charity employers will include James Wilson, Service Manager at British Red Cross and Jack Lewars, Director of Operations at School of Hard Knocks, with more names to be confirmed.

To take advantage of this unique opportunity, click here to reserve your place on this webinar. Places are limited and expected to fill quickly so early booking is advised.

If you’d like to submit a CV and covering letter for feedback in the webinar please send it by email to Anne.delauzun@rhul.ac.uk by 9am on Friday 30th May, and include a brief summary of the position or type of organisation to which your CV and letter are targeted. All CVs and letters will be anonymised and we can’t promise to feature all those we receive.

What’s In a Name? Volunteering vs The Internship and the Beauty of Starting Small

UCL Careers28 February 2014

This post originally appeared on the VSU Blog.

Katy Murray, who graduated from UCL last year, reflects on her experiences in the world of volunteering … katy_murray

There comes a time in every student’s university life when it dawns on them that this cosy, safe bubble of structured learning and student loans is not going to last forever. Soon the panic sets in, and there becomes one word that university students cling to like a life belt in the stormy seas of reality, an ideal they pursue like a holy grail of employment: The Internship. Yet applications for Internships can be as competitive as the post-graduation job hunt, especially now that organisations are facing increasing pressure to pay their interns (and rightly so). “The Internship”, however, is not the only line of defence between you and unemployment; if you are looking for valuable skills regardless of pay, volunteering  can be just as valuable as an internship, and, especially when volunteering for a small organisation, can even make you more resourceful and more used to unexpected challenges.

During my second year, I learnt the power of starting small.  I was incredibly fortunate to find an unpaid role in a small social enterprise company. I am still amazed and the enormous level of responsibility, autonomy, and opportunity this small organisation gave me. When I finished, with a view to gaining more hands-on experience on a smaller scale, I contacted the UCLU Volunteering Services Unit to see how I could help.  Working with the VSU took me into some tiny charitable and not-for-profit organisations in London, an eye-opener to the real communities behind the commercialised veneer of WC1.  These are noble and desperately needed organisations, a lifeline for the communities who are being ever squeezed by London’s ceaseless gentrification.  Yet these places are likely to fall beyond the radar of many an ambitious UCL student looking for big CV points, their senses finely tuned to the scent of a near-by careers fair or looming graduate scheme application deadline.

Frankly, I know this because I was precisely one of those students. I volunteered with the VSU, but this was not before I had narrowly missed an opportunity for an internship for the British Red Cross. When working for the VSU I visited many small scale charities, but until visiting, it would never have crossed my mind to cook food for a group of elderly people in a local Highgate community centre. This was because I “knew”, like every tactical student trying to tot up employability points around their course deadlines, that for a busy recruiter glancing at my CV (according to UCL Careers, the average recruiter spends about 90 seconds scanning each CV) a big name like the British Red Cross or Oxfam would catch the eye better than X unknown local charity. What I have learned from my time with the VSU, however, is that not only is this a miscalculation, but that to continue with this attitude could mean that many bright, creative and caring young students could miss out on some eye-opening experiences; experiences which expend their employability not only on paper, but far more noticeably in person.katy_murray

A good example of this is a memorable experience I had when I met with the head of a local community centre. I waited for her in the main hall of the centre, where she joined me to conduct the meeting.  As the meeting progressed, however, more and more people entered the hall, offering us food, interrupting us frequently with questions, or dragging chairs loudly across the floor. As I was trying to conduct this meeting, which I found stressful with all the noise and interruptions, I began to feel a bit irritated.  As I left, however, the coordinator apologised for the busyness of the hall. It turned out that a meeting was about to start which was incredibly important for the community centre, informing its participants of the government cuts and changes to benefits.

As I reflected on this experience, I realised that this meeting had demonstrated to me the remarkable nature of some of these small organisations and initiatives. They are chaotic because they are dealing with people whose whole lives are chaotic and difficult. Yet the manager was still able to give me her time despite the importance of the meeting that was about to begin. Meanwhile she was calm, collected, and dealt with each query briefly but effectively, while I sat there stressing that this was not meeting my expectations of “professional”. When I relayed this epiphany to John Braime, the VSU’s Volunteering Manager, he nodded fervently. “Absolutely,” he said “I often give talks to some of the UCL business students. I tell them that an internship at a big consultancy firm is all well and good, but if you really want to learn about time and people management, try going down to your local community centre and see about taking some tips from them.”katy_murray1

Going to a large company or organisation in search of valuable work experience is, of course, still an excellent career move. Larger organisations can offer you a valuable starting step on a career ladder and provide you with some important experience. Yet it is important to look for more than a “name” as your key criteria for choosing your next employer. Since graduating I have begun volunteering at the Children’s Heart Federation, a national organisation with only 8 permanent members of staff, which I found out about through the VSU’s weekly emails. I am now second in command on a campaign which has recently featured on the One Show, Radio Four and BBC Breakfast. On my second day, I was surprised with the opportunity to accompany my line manager to Parliament to lobby an MP. Last week I represented the company at an all women’s networking event, where I gave two presentations. Again, this opportunity was offered to me last minute, and I had just enough time to be briefed on what I had to say before my cab arrived and I was on my way to give my speech.

Volunteering is never dull, and full of exciting (and often unexpected) challenges. Therefore not falling for a name not only applies the name of the organisation, but the name you attach to your experience. “The Internship” has become the holy grail because it implies a structured and supervised programme of learning, work experience, and/or training. “Volunteering”, on the other hand, is often shunned because to most it implies tasks which are valuable and often very rewarding on a personal level, but which are unlikely to provide many professional skills. This, as I hope I have demonstrated, is not the case. Most importantly, as these examples show, working for a small charity that does not have the resources of its larger counterparts, offers constant opportunities to exercise and develop one’s own resourcefulness. This is the fundamental power of starting small.