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Top 10 insights from Charities & NGOs: Behind the scenes – influencing & policy

Joe SSprecher5 February 2019

As part of UCL’s Charities & NGOs Themed Week we held a panel session titled “Behind the Scenes – Influencing & Policy”.

We were joined by Jens Van den Brande, Economist at the National Foundation for Educational Research, Shilpa Ross, Senior Researcher at The King’s Fund, Annabell Rebello, Job Coach and Skills Trainer at Mencap and Beth Blackmore, Operations Executive at Koreo working with Charityworks.

Here are some key insights from the event, combined with some tips from UCL Careers Consultants.

  1. Don’t be too narrow minded, learn from different experiences

A common theme was not to be too focused on one specific ‘dream role’. Gaining experience within the sector can provide valuable experience and insight that could allow you to cross over to another organisation or role. In entry level positions or smaller organisations, you are often asked to get involved with numerous projects, assisting a variety of teams, which enables you to develop a variety of valuable skills. This will help you develop expertise and give you a flavour of the different types of roles found within charities and NGOs which can help you find that ‘dream role’.

  1. Get experience that will give you a head start

All panellists highlighted the importance of gaining work experience early in your job search. Work shadowing, internships, volunteering in a charity or even joining certain university societies were all stated as excellent opportunities to gain valuable experience for your CV and may even lead to directly hearing about a paid opportunity within an organisation.

  1. You can contribute!

Don’t underestimate what you can contribute now; panellists highlighted that across the sector young people are underrepresented on charity boards of trustees. Investigate becoming a charity trustee – look up “Young Charity Trustees” on Facebook or LinkedIn for inspiration. Check out the Charity Digital Code – charities need digital skills at all levels. As one panellist said – you are the digital natives!

  1. Find a cause you’re passionate about

Panellists felt finding a cause that you feel passionate about can be crucial in succeeding with your job search within the charity sector. Employers are often looking for driven staff who want to make a real difference in the area they work. Taking the time to do some research in your areas of interest can lead to finding an organisation with goals that align with your passion and will result in you having the opportunity to work with like-minded people. Guidestar is a great resource for finding UK charities working in a particular field.

  1. Understand the sector you want to work in

Looking into specific roles that interest you within the sector can often give you the edge when applying for roles. Do some research into the organisation you want to work for. Get an idea of who their competitors are and find out how certain organisations are unique. Why is it that you want to work for them specifically? Through doing your homework on an organisation before applying you gain an understanding of the roles they have on offer as well as which positions would suit you best.

  1. Variety is the spice of life!

Many of the panellists stated that the variety within their role was one of the things they enjoyed the most. Interacting with a variety of stakeholders, hearing their stories and working towards making a difference in the lives of others was something that made their work worthwhile.

  1. Find your unique selling points (USPs)

Identifying your USPs was something many of the panellists mentioned as being particularly important and would enable you to stand out from the crowd during an application process. Having these USPs will set you apart from other candidates and focus on the attributes you have that employers can benefit from. Examples of USPs can be some particular work experience, a postgraduate qualification or particular skills you have acquired.

  1. Access support from colleagues and networks

One of the key benefits of working within the charity sector according to all panellists was the collaborative, friendly and driven nature of the workforce within the sector. Making the most of colleagues, asking them questions and tapping into their skills and knowledge can be invaluable when gaining knowledge and understanding best practice. Seek out a mentor – someone in the sector prepared to take an interest in your growth and development, who you can share your goals and fears with openly, who will be a source of wisdom and encouragement. Try the UCL Alumni mentoring database or ask around in organisations you have contact with.

  1. Funding limitations leads to lack of job security within sector

One of the major challenges mentioned facing the charity sector is a lack of funding and financial security. This can lead to a lack of resources, lower salaries, limited staff benefits and an uncertainty surrounding job security when compared with corporate organisations. Although this seemed to be a challenge across the sector, one of the panellist had a very positive way of looking at this, stating that a lack of job security leads to a varied career and therefore gaining a wealth of skills and experience.

  1. Basic competencies are key to most positions

Panellists highlighted the importance of needing to meet key competencies when applying for roles. Organisations will often outline key qualities they’re looking for in candidates, which will equip them with the attributes needed to carry out the advertised role. It is important to show an understanding of these competencies and have strong examples of times when you have demonstrated these skills. Quite often these competencies are based on softer skills such as communication, problem solving and team work.

In summary:

An organisation’s workforce will often come from a range of different backgrounds, this is why focusing on your passion for the cause, drawing from your USPs and previous experiences, along with being able to demonstrate key competencies will put you in good stead to succeed in the application process.

Museums, Arts and Cultural Heritage Sector Careers Resources

Joe SSprecher4 December 2018

How do you start a career in museums? What are careers in the arts like? What jobs are there in cultural heritage? Following UCL Careers’ Museums, Arts and Cultural Heritage Themed Week, we have created this handout to provide a list of useful resources to help prepare you for the event and to continue your research into the sector.

Overview

The Museums, Arts or Cultural Heritage sector encompasses a wide range or job roles; from traditional roles such as Museum Curator, Archaeologist or Artist, to less traditional roles in IT, Finance, HR and Legal, which are set to see continued growth in the coming years – great news for talented graduates with creative flair.

Government statistics from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) show that employment within the creative industries, which include advertising, architecture, arts and culture, craft, design, fashion, games, music, publishing, technology and TV and film, is growing at four times the rate of the UK workforce as a whole.

Read more of the creative arts sector overview on Prospects

Key starting points

The following resources will provide a general overview of current trends in the Museums, Arts and Cultural Heritage sector and provide more detailed information on the range of different graduate level roles available, helping you get a better understanding of your different options:

The different job profiles listed will provide key information on areas such as:

  • Main duties/responsibilities for the role
  • Expected salary information (starting and potential earnings)
  • Professional development, training and career prospects
  • Typical working hours
  • Entry requirements (formal qualifications and skills)
  • How to get work experience
  • How to identify key employers and where to search for vacancy

Professional organisations and other bodies

Many museums, arts and cultural Heritage sector professional body websites will produce career guides aimed at student/graduate level jobseekers, providing an insider’s view on how to start your career. They will also provide information for their members on areas such as events, news on current trends, future developments etc. for the sector.

Keeping up to date with sector news through sites like these is sites is useful for building your commercial awareness which recruiters will be looking for evidence of when you start applying.

The listings below will highlight major professional bodies for the museums, arts and cultural heritage sector and explain what sorts of information each one provides that might be useful to you when planning your career. They will also provide support with navigating these sites to find the student focussed content.

Employer directories and vacancy sources

Through myUCLCareers thousands of organisations target UCL students and graduates by advertising a range of vacancy types including work experience/internships and full time graduate level roles.

Log in to your myUCLCareers account now to search for current Museums, Arts and Cultural Heritage sector vacancies – (use the ‘Occupational area’ filter for ‘Arts administration, libraries, museums and heritage’ or the use ‘Quick search’ for terms such as: ‘museums’, ‘arts’ or ‘heritage’)

Through your myUCLCareers account you can also use the organisation search to identify recruiters by ‘occupational area’ who have a connection with UCL Careers and who operate in the Museums, Arts and Cultural Heritage sector.

Many recruiters won’t directly target UCL students through myUCLCareers so it’s also worth expanding your search by looking through our listings for this sector:

Company directories:

Job sites:

Students’ Union UCL – Clubs and Societies

Explore what clubs and societies are on offer at UCL that could help develop your interest in the Museums, Arts and Cultural Heritage sector.

Clubs and Societies of interest could include:

For a full list of societies go to the Students’ Union UCL society search page.

Museums, Arts and Cultural Heritage Sector Themed Week

If you missed our annual Museums, Arts and Cultural Heritage sector week or would like a reminder of what happened, you can visit our website:

  • Themed Week Events Programme: See past events to discover which organisations were involved and get an idea of what to expect next year.
  • Themed Week Archive: See event recording from previous years. Watch talks and panel events from the comfort of your own home!
  • UCL Careers Blog: Search our blog to find more articles about these sectors, including alumni case-studies and sector insights.

Museums, Arts and Cultural Heritage Sector Mentoring

Following the Themed Week, you might also want to explore the ‘UCL Alumni Online Community’ – to identify UCL graduates who are now working in this sector and who are happy to provide support for UCL students. If you’re unsure where to start with networking, see these resources on how to network professionally.

UCL Careers are here to help you find your future, no matter what stage your at in your career planning. Visit our website to find out other ways that we can support you and for any questions, please contact careers@ucl.ac.uk.

Volunteering in Museums, Arts and Cultural Heritage

Joe SSprecher20 November 2018

Government & Policy Week icon showing Houses of Parliament As part of the Museums, Arts and Cultural Heritage Themed Week, John Braime from the Students’ Union UCL volunteering service discusses top volunteering opportunities in the museums, arts and cultural heritage sectors:

Museums, Arts and Cultural Heritage Volunteering

London is full of heritage and cultural organisations, many of them small museums or charities that rely on volunteers to keep them going. If you’re considering a career in the heritage or cultural field, or if you just love museums and galleries, then there is plenty to choose from. Here’s a selection from the current vacancies list of Students’ Union UCL’s

Volunteering Service – you’ll find many more on our volunteering directory or drop us a line at volunteering@ucl.ac.uk.

The Weiner Library

The Wiener Library is one of the world’s leading and most extensive archives on the Holocaust and Nazi era. The Wiener Library has a strong tradition of working with volunteers. Our volunteers are vitally important to us as an organisation and we could not achieve what we do without them. We are currently recruiting for the following volunteering roles: Blogger, Book Reviewer, Events Assistant, Photographer (photographing our collections and events), Tour Guide (delivering public tours of our exhibition and archive) and Translators of German to English (translating original testimony for an upcoming education website.

Leighton House Museum

The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea owns and runs two historic Victorian homes near High Street Kensington, Leighton House Museum and 18 Stafford Terrace. We are looking for volunteers for both properties, at 18 Stafford Terrace for room guides on either a Wednesday, Saturday or Sunday afternoon and at Leighton House Museum for activity volunteers to help deliver family based activities and learning volunteers to help deliver school workshops.

London Canal Museum

London Canal Museum is dedicated to educating and inspiring our visitors with the history of London’s canals – how they’ve shaped London’s development, the ordinary people that lived and worked on them, as well as the entrepreneurs who profited from them. We want to pass on the heritage of the canals so that future generations can learn about London’s industrial and social past. We’re currently recruiting Front of House Volunteers.

The Foundling Museum

The Foundling Museum explores the history of the Foundling Hospital, the UK’s first children’s charity, and celebrates the ways in which artists of all disciplines have helped to improve children’s lives for over 270 years. Our team of volunteers are a huge part of the Foundling Museum, having being instrumental in establishing the Museum prior to its opening in 2004 and continuing to contribute to its success today. We pride ourselves on welcoming a diverse range of individuals who choose to share their time and expertise with us. The Museum could not function without them.

John Braime

Volunteering Manager, Students’ Union UCL

The Museums, Arts and Cultural Heritage Themed Week is now over, but details of other upcoming themed weeks can be found on our website. These include Charities and NGOs and Sustainability. Recording of previous years events can also be found on our Themed Week Archive.

Green Shoots Link-Up

Chloe JAckroyd1 February 2017

Screen Shot 2017-02-01 at 17.13.24

 

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

Chloe JAckroyd25 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

 

 

Public Health Partnerships & Programmes Manager at Body & Soul: Inspire Me

Weronika ZBenning31 August 2016

As part of our #UCLInspireMe series, Bianca shares her insight into how volunteering helped her to secure he rcurrent role at Body & Soul, an Islington based organisation that supports children, families and young people who have or are closely affected by HIV.  Here she talks to us about how the skills she developed while volunteering at UCL helped her get her current role.  For more insights from recent graduates working for smaller organisations, visit https://blogs.ucl.ac.uk/ucl-careers/ and search #SMEProfile.

bianca_karpf

“Volunteering is a win-win situation really. You are helping charities to be sustainable and supporting people in need but you also gain great life and work experience and are doing something meaningful with your time.”

Bianca Karpf graduated from UCL’s MSc in Medical Anthropology in 2013. As a student, she volunteered with HIV charity Body & Soul, with the Council for At Risk Academics , and for international health charity Medact.

Where are you currently working?
I’m currently working as Public Health Partnerships & Programmes Manager at Body & Soul, a charity which supports children, young people and families living with or affected by HIV. My role involves public sector engagement, making evidence-based cases for statutory investment, project management and development and measuring impact within the charity.

I am also about to start a new volunteering role as at Food Cycle, a charity tackling food insecurity through providing nutritious hot meals to those in need through surplus food donations from local businesses. I will be cooking meals and developing their community outreach.

What useful skills and experiences did you gain as a volunteer when you were at UCL?
So many! Patience was a key one for working with people on a frontline basis but also exercising empathy and being non-judgemental is an important skill to build trusting relationships with service-users. The experience of seeing how resilient and hopeful people can be even when they have lived through extreme hardship and terrible life experiences. I also learnt how to multi-task as I was juggling multiple commitments at the same time.

How has volunteering helped you in your career so far?
Volunteering as a research assistant during my time at UCL led to paid employment when the charity got a grant to develop the research. It also was great experience when I applied for research jobs in West Africa the following year.

Volunteering at Body & Soul inspired me to write about HIV and the voluntary sector in my master’s dissertation. That knowledge and the fact that I was already known to the charity as a hard worker and a loyal volunteer definitely helped me to get my current job here at the charity.

What would you say to UCL students considering whether or not to volunteer?
Volunteering is a win-win situation really. You are helping charities to be sustainable and supporting people in need but you also gain great life and work experience and are doing something meaningful with your time. It is a great way to break out of the student bubble, and an antidote to restlessness! Volunteering puts your own problems into perspective and introduces you to people from a really broad range of backgrounds.

You can volunteer in such a wide range of capacities that there is sure to be something that is your fit. It can be frontline and working with children or vulnerable adults, or you can volunteer/intern in an office gaining valuable work experience. At my current place of work we have volunteer complementary therapists, handymen, phone support volunteers and fundraisers so search what is right for you. Volunteer fairs are a great way of chatting to people from the charity and finding out about a broad range of organisations.

Interested in finding out more about volunteering? Visit UCLU Volunteering Services Unit’s webpages.

Head of Adult Services at Body & Soul: Inspire Me

Weronika ZBenning26 August 2016

As part of our #UCLInspireMe series, Adrian shares his insight into how volunteering helped him to secure his current role at, Body & Soul, an Islington based organisation that supports children, families and young people who have or are closely affected by HIV.  Here he talks to us about the skills he developed while volunteering at UCL helped him get his current role.  For more insights from recent graduates working for smaller organisations, visit https://blogs.ucl.ac.uk/ucl-careers/ and search #SMEProfile.

“I became a much better communicator after volunteering. Volunteering also allowed me to put a lot of what I was writing about in my dissertation into context.”

Adrian Deen graduated from UCL’s MSc in Science, Technology and Society in 2014. We recently spoke to him about how his student volunteering experiences have influenced his career so far.

Where are you currently working?
I’m the Head of Adult Services at Body & Soul, an Islington based organisation that supports children, families and young people who have or are closely affected by HIV. My role involves planning and programming the workshops and events that take place on our Tuesday service evenings. I also liaise with our member’s medical teams, attend conferences and do casework on practical issued our members might face.

What volunteering were you involved with whilst you were at UCL?
Whilst at UCL I volunteered at Body & Soul and it was off the back of volunteering that I was encouraged to apply for the job that I now do.

I also volunteered at CORE Arts – an art school in Homerton for people with severe and enduring mental health problems. I also volunteered at the Grant Museum of Comparative Anatomy as well as for The Parent House – an Islington based charity for asylum seeker parents.

What useful skills and experiences did you gain as a volunteer when you were at UCL?
I became a much better communicator after volunteering. Volunteering also allowed me to put a lot of what I was writing about in my dissertation into context.

How has volunteering helped you in your career so far?
Volunteering has had a direct impact on my career – again, got my current job through it.

What would you say to UCL students considering whether or not to volunteer?
Absolutely do it! University (and school in general) can be a very self-absorbing pursuit. You tend to spend long hours thinking about your own thoughts, writing these thoughts down and usually getting told they’re good. Volunteering or just doing anything for anyone else can be an incredible humbling thing, it’s grounding which, for students can be a very good thing.

Make sure you volunteer at a charity that actually means something to you. Volunteering for the sake of it is no use to anyone, especially not the people/organisations who need enthusiastic volunteers to continue doing the work they do.

Interested in finding out more about volunteering? Visit UCLU Volunteering Services Unit’s webpages.

 

UCLU’s Awesome Autumn Volunteering Fair – Thursday 29th October 2015

ManpreetDhesi27 October 2015

At UCLU’s Volunteering Services Unit, we’ve got so many activities on offer that we couldn’t fit them all into one fair- so we’re having another one on Thursday October 29th, 12 noon – 3pm, Wilkins South Cloisters.
AWESOME AUTUMN page image

With 40 different recruiters, including: Age UK Camden, English Heritage, Westminster Befriend a Family, London Youth Games, Marchmont Community Centre, North London Cares, Parkinson’s UK, National AIDS Trust, London Air Ambulance, Macmillan Cancer Support, Camden Citizen’s Advice Bureau Service, The Foundling Museum, Latin American Disabled People’s Project, The National Autistic Society, and more.

Volunteering is a great way to discover London, meet new people and learn new skills whilst making a difference – so come along and find out what it’s all about.

Don’t miss out! To find out more, visit www.uclu.org/volunteer-fair

VSU’s Winter Volunteering Fair

ManpreetDhesi19 January 2015

UCLU WINTER VOLUNTEERING FAIR
12 NOON – 3PM THIS THURSDAY
SOUTH CLOISERS & MAIN QUAD MARQUEE
Will 2015 be the year that you make a big difference?  If so, a good place to get started will be our Winter Volunteering Fair on Thursday 22nd January.

In the South Cloisters we’ll be hosting over 50 different London-based organisations for you to find out about, including Centra Volunteering, Diabetes UK, Action Tutoring, Health Poverty Action, Origin Housing, Keen London, West Euston Time Bank, Stemettes, St John Ambulance, ULU Links, London LGBT+ Community Pride, Anthony Nolan, Body & Soul, UCL Hospital, Theatre Royal Stratford East, UCH Macmillan Cancer Centre, St Joseph’s Hospice, MAC-UK, Stroke Association, Newlon Fusion, IntoUniversity… and many more.

In the Main Quad Marquee, UCLU Volunteering Society (VolSoc) will be hosting an international volunteering fair, with exciting projects from around the world.  There exhibitors include: Frontier, Otra Cosa Network, The Hope Foundation For Street Children, Kaya Responsible Travel, PSE For a Child’s Smile UK, The Daneford Trust, Tenteleni and more. For more information about the Volunteering Society and international volunteering please go to their website.

You’ll find us in the South Cloisters and Main Quad Marquee from 12 noon – 3pm on Thursday 22nd – we hope to see you there!

Add the Winter Volunteering Fair to your calendar

The Big Volunteering Fair – 9th and 10th October 2014

ManpreetDhesi6 October 2014

UCL is London’s Volunteering University, so come along to our Big Volunteering Fair on the 9th and 10th October, 12noon – 3pm, South Cloisters, Wilkins Building and discover what’s on offer.

The Big Volunteering Fair

There will be 97 different charities and student-run community projects to have a chat with, including The Hackney Pirates, Keen London, UCL Academy Mentoring, St John’s Hospice, Respond, British Red Cross, Dorcas Befriending Project, Body & Soul, IntoUniversity, Camden LGBT Forum, St Mungos Broadway, Doctors of the World, Citrus Saturdays, Street Child, UCLU Charity Week and many more… the full list of stalls is now up at https://uclu.org/services/volunteering-at-uclu/volunteering-fair