Jenny Sellers studied at the University of Leeds and is now the Project Events Assistant for Leeds based Community Interest Company Luv2MeetU. Here she explains how getting involved in a range of things at university – and beyond – led to her current role.
My current job
I work for Luv2MeetU a friendship and dating agency for adults with learning disabilities. Luv2MeetU is part of the larger charity hft trust, which provides a variety of services to people with a learning disability. My role is Project Events Assistant for Leeds. I organise social events in Leeds as part of the Leeds and Wakefield team. My role also includes creating events flyers to mail out to Luv2MeetU members and attending Luv2MeetU council meetings (made up of members). My role is incredibly varied, flexible and really rewarding! I get to meet a variety of people and no two months are exactly the same, exactly what attracted me to the role and Luv2MeetU.
Getting involved with Leeds RAG
Previously, I had volunteered with Leeds RAG, organising various events such as hitchhikes to Munich and Marrakech. RAG provided an excellent opportunity to build upon existing skills I had and learn new ones where events organisation was concerned. I learnt how to cope with problems that came up (which can happen frequently when running events) and how to work with people from a variety of backgrounds, which has set me up really well for my current role.
Working at Barnodo’s
A big part of my work experience before graduating from Leeds University was becoming an intern at Barnado’s for three months. I worked in the community fundraising department at the Leeds regional office. My responsibilities included creating a fundraising pack to send out to businesses in the Yorkshire and North East regions and helping to recruit new volunteers to Barnardo’s in both these areas.
I worked closely with two community fundraising volunteer managers throughout my time at Barnardo’s and got to see a completely different side to a major charity. Learning how the organisation operated at a regional level was invaluable experience. This also showed in my future applications that I was keen to make a career in the third sector.
How I found my internship
It sounds really simple, but I found my internship and my current job through searching on websites related to the kind of roles I wanted. Since I was keen to work in the third sector, I looked on websites such as www.charityjob.co.uk and www.doinggoodleeds.org.uk. CharityJOB was where I found my internship. I actually found the vacancy at Luv2MeetU through LUU’s Joblink.
Application and interview stage
The application was fairly straight forward but the interview was one of the more challenging ones I’ve had. I gave a presentation detailing my main considerations if I were to organise an event for Luv2MeetU. My advice for anyone who is in a similar situation would be to research for your interview as if you are already in the role. Go through the processes you would be expected to, if you were successful in securing your role.
It really shows that you have gone that extra mile, which is an essential quality that all employers seek. It also shows that you have a genuine interest in the company you are applying to and this will make you stand out. For instance, because I researched Luv2MeetU and knew they were looking to expand the service in the future, this provided a good talking point in my interview.
My advice for getting in this sector
My advice for anyone wanting to work for a charity or non-profit organisation in the future is firstly to get as much experience volunteering as you can. If possible, have an idea of what you’d like to do within an organisation and tailor your experience to this (for instance, if you want to work in a fundraising department, do fundraising events!) Secondly, seek opportunities within regional offices of charities. Many do have offices in and around Leeds and throughout Yorkshire, so you would not have to travel far to get really valuable work experience.
You may not necessarily find what you’d like to do at first, but this will broaden your horizons and your skillset. Finally, when applying to a charity or non-profit organisation, think about why you want to work for a certain organisation and why the vacancy appeals to you. This will reflect in your application and throughout your interview, making you stand out against other candidates
If you want to find out more about volunteering whilst at university, check out volunteering.leeds.ac.uk where you will find lots of opportunities, information, events and case studies about volunteering. You can also follow @LeedsVolunteer on Twitter for the latest information and opportunities. See our website for the more information about working in the charity sector