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Career Profile | Independent Sexual Violence Advocate

UCL Careers7 February 2019

A former UCL student reflects on how her role as a sabbatical officer for Students’ Union UCL led her to work in the charity sector.

Annie Tidbury was Women’s office for Students’ Union UCL, an experience she describes as “transformative”. Each Spring UCL students elect seven full-time, paid sabbatical officers. Four of the seven act as charity trustees and all gain a great wealth of experience working for a registered charity. The deadline for this year’s nominations is 22nd February at noon. Interested? Find out more on their website and think about nominating yourself or a fellow student!

Annie, what is your current role?

For the past year I’ve been working as an Independent Sexual Violence Advocate – that means that I support and advocate for survivors of sexual violence who are going through the criminal justice system.

What made you decide this was for you?

My time as Women’s Officer is what made me want to work in the women’s movement. Back in 2014, I organised some training for myself and others at the Students’ Union and that training was delivered by the rape crisis centre I currently work for. It was honestly something as small as this that introduced me to the job that I do today.

What experiences helped you along the way?

Being Women’s Officer was really transformative for me and it is undoubtedly the main reason I was accepted onto a charity sector grad scheme after leaving UCL. Let’s be honest; there aren’t very many graduate jobs where you go straight in at the top of an organisation and get to make really big decisions about how it runs. As Women’s Officer I had the time, platform and resources to run university-wide campaigns, change policies and procedures, advocate to management and create the kind of spaces that I wanted to see within the union. All of those things were important in and of themselves, and they also gave me knowledge and skills that have been invaluable ever since; in my role as a project manager at a small charity, as head of membership and communications at a slightly larger learning disability organisation, and now in my role at a rape crisis centre.

I feel that it’s important to say that whilst being a sabbatical officer will almost definitely be useful for whatever you want to do next, your future career should absolutely not be the only reason you stand for election. If you don’t particularly care about the Students’ Union, or the position you’re running for, then you will most likely have a frustrating year and do a bad job. Trust me, it’s happened. But if you do care and if you think that students having collective power is important, then do it and you will reap the rewards throughout your sabbatical year and beyond.

This article was written as part of Charities and NGOs Themed Week.

Find out more about upcoming Themed Weeks on our website! 

Operations Officer: Inspire Me

UCL Careers10 October 2015

As part of our #UCLInspireMe series, Laura Davies, UCL Alumnus (BSc Human Science, 2013 and MSc Technology Entrepreneurship, 2014) and Operations Officer at BaseStone, talks to us about how she got this role and shares some tips for UCL students who want to get into the sector. basestone.laura

How did you get into your role?

I’m Laura, I am the Operations Officer at BaseStone. BaseStone is a tool for architects and engineers to capture and communicate data more effectively. It connects people and data in construction, reducing costs and mistakes on projects.

I found out about the role through a mentor of mine. She knew the founder of the company and knew that they were looking for someone to help them grow the business. The majority of the team was made up of software developers so they were hiring for new employees on the business side.

I chose this career because of the opportunities for growth. There was a huge amount of potential for me to develop my own skill set, confidence and abilities in so many areas. I think I recognised that the business was at a really interesting point – the technology was in demand by the industry and there were many customers in the pipeline.  But there was a need for all of the pieces of the puzzle around the technology to be put in place – I wanted to be the person to do that! It was an exciting challenge and I knew that this would give me a breadth of experience like no other.

What are the best things about working in your role?

I think working with the a team that care so much about what they do is my favourite part of the job. Everyone is so passionate about our mission – bringing change to the construction industry. We work very closely together so it really helps that we all get on!

The work is also interesting. What we are doing is quite ground-breaking – we’re disrupting an ancienct industry. It’s really interesting to be part of the change. I get to go out on construction sites to visit our users. So I have been on Crossrail sites, seeing London’s future infrastructure being built which is pretty cool too.

As part of my role, I work with a huge range of people – from graduate engineers to important industry figures. It’s great to have that diversity

Biggest success in your role?

I am really proud of the community we have built around what we are doing. As the industry is quite old fashioned, we’ve developed our own community of disruptors. We hold events to champion disruption and discuss the future of the built environment. The last event had over 120 attendees and caused a real stir in the industry.

What are the biggest challenges you face in your work?

The biggest challenge is having to hit the ground running with things you’ve never done before. But technology is a really supportive industry – there are mentors, events, free courses and many meetup groups that you can get advice from.

It’s a challenge but it pushes you to realise your full potential. It provides an excellent springboard for your career.

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

Developing your network is the single most important thing. As I mentioned, the world of startups and technology is friendly and supportive. People will generally be happy to have a coffee or call with you if you reach out to them. So don’t be afraid to ask!

I would recommend getting some experience in a startup before you jump right into one. I did the UCL Advances Summer Internship Programme in my second year of university. You get a paid internship for 8 weeks in a small company – I couldn’t recommend it highly enough.

You can also develop yourself and build your skill set. I did the CodeFirst:Girls coding course which gave me coding skills that I still use today. There are many free courses like this in London, for both men and women to develop skills in tech. UCL Advances also do many events and workshops.

Good luck!

To find our more about working in a startup, either come in an speak to a Careers Consultant or visit UCL Advances.

Technology Consultant : UCL Alumni

UCL Careers22 June 2015

Alan Ying, MSc Technology Entrepreneurship 2009 alumnus, tells us why doing a Masters at UCL helped his career as an Senior IT Consultant at FDM Group.

“Growing up in the ‘dot com bubble’ and witnessing the growing potential of the digital world, committing to an IT career was a no-brainer since my childhood. Alan Ying -  FDM Group

I obtained my bachelor degree in Computer Science back in 2008, then moved on to extend my IT knowledge from a business perspective by doing a Master’s in Technology Entrepreneurship at UCL in 2009.  I chose this course because I wanted to broaden my understanding within the field of IT and I was particularly interested in the process from an idea to a product on the shelf.  The location of the University was perfect, especially as a business course, UCL attracts a fantastic mix of candidates from across the globe, and the all-important business and social events were right on our doorsteps! The course focused on the fundamental concepts of how to survive as a start-up.  We had in-depth discussions on business cases and analysed the reasons of success as well as the mistakes we shouldn’t make.  As well as learning a great deal on the course, the part I enjoyed the most was the combination of networking and industry insight at the Thursday night events. This involved a guest presentation with entrepreneurs and business aficionados, where they shared their experience and talked us through their ups and downs during their journey to success.  I’d also like to stress that the inspirational lead lecturer, Dr Chapman made the course ever so exciting and I much appreciate the time and effort he invested in my class.

I completed my Masters at a difficult time for the economy: for those who are young enough to remember, neither of these two years were ideal for employment, due to the economy meltdown and the bankruptcy of numerous leading financial firms. It was the most challenging time for job hunters in decades! FDM Group was one of the few IT consultancy firms that was still growing during the recession and they were looking for candidates who were bilingual and who held a computer-related degree; it was a perfect match. UCL have a fantastic network that was demonstrated by the career fairs that they organised. The ones that I attended opened my eyes to the possibility and opportunities out there and helped refine my career path after graduation

My 10-week training started immediately after I made it through the interview stages and was accepted onto the Graduate Programme. I was glad to be joining a company with top-notch training facilities, a global network and a market-driven strategy that suited client demands.

Upon completing my training in the Academy I obtained a professional IT qualification that became a game changer in terms of my future career: the ISTQB certificate for Software Testing. FDM Group arranged interviews for me with clients within the banking industry and after a successful interview with HSBC I was placed on site. My first assignment was to cover for a Senior Test Analyst on maternity leave!

No matter how technically talented you are, your first experience in a professional IT environment, especially in one of the biggest banks in the world, is never going to be easy. The amount of industrial and internal terminologies and abbreviations used on a daily basis is comparable to a whole new language; in my early days I kept a mini booklet in my pocket where I wrote down all the new ‘words’ I learnt every day and revised them at night. My FDM Trainer was absolutely spot on when he told me that IT is never a nine-to-five job. After only a few weeks on site I had earned the trust of the HSBC management and was given an opportunity to look after a small project on my own; this really helped my career development and further enhanced my skill-set, helping me to become a better IT Consultant for years to follow.

The second placement I took up through FDM Group was at BGL Group. They were the company behind CompareTheMarket.com and also provided services to create web-based insurance solutions to their co-operate partners and clients. I was brought on board to support the national QA team to protect the intense timelines across numerous projects.

I am now an E2E Test Manager of Barclays Mobile Banking Applications and have been working on various Barclays mobile projects since I was placed at Barclays 4 years ago. My chief responsibility is to amaze our customers by allowing them to experience next-generation digital mobile solutions provided by the Barclays IT Team. No two days are the same at the office and new challenges arise every day. It is important to keep up to date with the latest digital trends, embrace them and integrate them into your own knowledge in order to provide informed and sophisticated advice to customers and clients.

Throughout the years there were a few occasions where FDM Group clients wanted me to become their full time employee but I always ended up politely declining. Even now I appreciate how FDM provides professional training, adapts to the market needs and has an internal and external community with global reach – the exact same reasons I chose FDM Group in the first place.”

For more information, please visit www.fdmgroup.com or for further information about Technology Consultant Careers visit, Careers Tagged.

How UCL Careers GradClub helped me

UCL Careers15 April 2015

Alec Lozanoski, graduate from Institute of Child Health (2013),  shares his experience of UCL Careers GradClub and how he changed his view from a sceptic to an advocate.

How did you find out about GradClub?

Throughout completing my MSc at UCL, I received countless emails from the UCL careers service. As I was also the Course Student Representative, and had my sights set on a PhD, ergo I immediately disregarded these

What motivated you to use the service?

After graduating, jobs in my related field were few and far between. I started a voluntary lab. assistant place in heart valve cell research to build my CV and experience. As a graduate, I still received plenty of emails, after being in a career rut since undergrad; I thought this would be my best and last shot and have nothing to lose.

How you find the service and what did you gain

At first I was utterly sceptical, as I knew I was doing everything I possibly could for my career but didn’t have any luck, so I convinced myself that it would be a waste of my time, and taking up a slot for someone that could benefit. I thought that I would give it a shot, and if the service was poor or not reaching any targets, that I would call it off.

As I suspected, I was in fact doing everything right. However, at my half hour weekly meetings with Katie, my CV got a complete restructure to resemble a science template, and then began some working on networking, and interpreting feedback on this, followed by some mock interviews, which turns out I desperately needed.

Next steps for you?

I will maintain the CV as its current structure, adding this new job and relevant training to it. I will be tailoring it to a Science-work placement/industry job targeting CV, rather than PhD.

Would you recommend GradClub?

 I cannot suggest GradClub highly enough, the earlier you start the better it would be for you. You would be surprised at some aspects that you will be pulled up on, it always helps having 3rd person input, particularly one who may not be as well informed in your current career plans and help you to open-up and see a wider picture.

I only wish that GradClub was available indefinitely!

To find our more about how UCL Careers GradClub can help you Find your Future, visit: www.ucl.ac.uk/careers/gradclub

Want big responsibility in a fast-paced environment? The Charity sector could be a hidden gem!

UCL Careers29 October 2013

Katy Murray graduated with a First from UCL in 2013 with a degree in Ancient World Studies. She is currently interning at the Children’s Heart Federation and gives us her take on breaking into the Charity sector and how you can get big responsibility within a fast-paced environment…

I am a recent graduate, and I am working two jobs to fund an expensive habit; unpaid internships at small charities. It’s not always a glamorous life; I generally work a 6 day week, hibernating on Sundays. I am also occasionally still found in the queue for free curry at SOAS to save some pennies. On the other hand, last week, on the second day of my internship at the Children’s Heart Federation, I was greeted at our small Shoreditch office with “Do you want to come and do some lobbying at Parliament?”  Next thing I knew I was walking the halls of Westminster, having tea with an MP, looking out onto the Thames.

The experience I am getting at this charity is one I would quite frankly pay for. I am now second in command on a campaign which has recently featured on the One Show, Radio Four and BBC Breakfast. On my first day, I was knocking up press releases to be sent out to newspapers nationwide. Not only am I gaining skills that make me more employable, but I get the biggest buzz out of the working on a cause that I really think is valuable.

When I am not getting my fix at the charity, I work as an Applications Adviser at a major London University. The majority of students who come through the door want to work in banking and finance, management consultancy, and pharmaceutical companies; big business, big competition, big salary. There are numerous reasons why students decide to go down this route, but each candidate looks for something to give an edge to their application forms. One of these I have been seeing recently is students saying that they are drawn to the social responsibility initiative which some employers are promoting. Some banks, for example, give their employees time off the volunteer for their communities, which some students seem to find attractive. As a graduate looking to “break in” to the Charity/Not-For-Profit sector, a part of me always wants to ask (but doesn’t): why not work in a sector whose business is social responsibility? Why not seek opportunity in organisations whose “triple bottom line” has always been their bottom line?

One major reason is money. A recent TedTalk by activist and fundraiser Dan Pallotta noted that a CEO of a Hunger charity can expect a salary of over $316,000  less  than a Stanford MBA (that’s nearly £200,000). Pallotta also observes “We have a visceral reaction to the idea that anyone would make very much money helping other people. Interesting that we don’t have a visceral reaction to the notion that people would make a lot of money not helping people.” Yet not a single student that I have spoken to has said to me “I want to work for X bank/consultancy firm because they pay more than the others.” Most of the students I see are ambitious, diligent and want to work in these sectors because they want a big career and big challenges, (perhaps as well as a big pay cheque).

Clearly, as someone who, for whatever reason, wants to be a full-time do-gooder, I struggle slightly to understand the will to work in the profit driven cultures of private sector corporations. What I do understand, however, is how it feels to do a job that I am passionate about, and that I get a genuine buzz out of. Therefore I completely respect the fact that there are people in the world, who get geeky at the thought of stocks and figures, risk analysis, and financial instruments. So if you are one of them then I wish you all the best. But if it is just that you’re looking for a job which is about meeting targets, assessing risk, problem solving and big responsibility in a fast-paced and challenging environment, and you want a career with meaning that gives back to your society and your community, then I can tell you the Charity/Not-For-Profit sector will tick every one of those boxes.

This blog post was orginially posted 29th October 2013.