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.”