Jessica Hudson (History, 2012) is a Partnerships Manager in the Retail Team at Cancer Research UK after having completed their graduate scheme. In this post she shares her experience of getting into the Charity sector as well as her advice for others interested in doing the same.
I’m Jess and I studied History at the University of Leeds from 2009-2012. I enjoyed 3 amazing years in Leeds, where I seemed to spend most of my time getting told off for talking too loudly in the Brotherton or getting a cheeseburger from Zulfis at 3am. But it was my involvement with one of the societies at Leeds Uni, READ International, which really reinforced my decision to forge a career in the charity sector.
My current role:
Three years after graduating from University of Leeds, I’ve just secured a role as a Partnerships Manager for the Retail team at Cancer Research UK. My job is to work with a range of our fantastic corporate partners to generate good-quality stock that can be sold in Cancer Research UK shops across the country. It’s a really varied role that can include anything from presenting at huge partner conferences to detailed campaign analysis. No two days are the same in the world of retail, and I love working in such a fast moving environment with such tangible outputs.
Cancer Research graduate scheme
I secured my current role after spending two years on the Fundraising and Marketing stream of the Cancer Research UK graduate scheme. During the scheme, I completed four six mouth rotations that varied from event management to strategy development. I approached the scheme with an appetite to learn as much as possible, and so I opted to pick four very different placements that gave me a real breadth of experience and exposure at Cancer Research UK.
I applied for the graduate scheme having worked for a small charity for nine months. Whilst this experience was great in boosting my confidence and giving me that much needed hands on office experience, I was still unsure of the type of role I was looking for next. The graduate scheme was a perfect next step as it allowed me to get involved in various teams from across the fundraising department, as well as learn more about the organisation as a whole from the other grads. I never imagined I would end up in Retail when I started the scheme, which just goes to show how useful it is to gain broad experience.
Advice for others interested in the charity sector:
My advice to anyone looking to break into the charity sector after graduating would be to get as much as experience as you can. There are lots of great volunteering opportunities at university, and those never-ending summer breaks give you plenty of time to intern or get a part-time job. Varied experience will make you a more interesting and confident interview candidate, and might just give you the edge over someone else.
For anyone looking to apply for the Cancer Research UK graduate scheme, I’d recommend doing your research beforehand as it’s quite a rigorous process. Spend time looking through our strategy and getting up to speed with our recent achievements and areas of future focus. Don’t underestimate the importance of passion for the cause- it’s the thing that gets us out of bed every day!
And finally, don’t be disheartened by any knock backs. We’ve all been there, and inevitably we’ll all be there again at some point throughout our careers. The right job is out there somewhere, some of them are just harder to find!
Cancer Research’s graduate scheme offers 4 streams: Fundraising & Marketing, Scientific Strategy & Funding, Policy Information & Communications, and Technology and is open for applications for 2016 start now until mid-November. Full details of this and all opportunities with Cancer Research can be found on their student and graduate careers site