Jess is a psychology student here at Leeds. Here she tells us about her placement in the charity sector, how she found it, and offers valuable pearls of wisdom for anyone wanting to do the same….
Hi, I’m Jess and I study Psychology at the University of Leeds. I enjoyed my first 2 years of study but after some consideration realised that I may not want to go into a career specifically related to psychology. In an effort to gain some experience in an area of work outside of psychology I started applying for placements to undertake in my third year. After some consideration I decided that I wanted to focus my search on a placement within the charity sector.
My current role:
After a few months of applying to various roles, I secured the role of Community Fundraiser at Marie Curie in the Bradford Hospice. This is quite a varied role that involves working with volunteers and helping them to raise money for the charity. This could mean working with a single volunteer on a small event like a sponsored run, to organising a large corporate event. My job also involves helping to support Marie Curie’s national campaigns such as the ‘Great Daffodil Appeal’ by promoting it on social media, writing and sending out press releases and helping with general administration tasks.
Previous experience and the application process:
The application process was very similar to most other placements – I had to send a CV and covering letter then was invited for a face-to-face interview at Marie Curie. I applied for the placement having volunteered in a home for the elderly previously. This definitely helped to support my application, but don’t worry if you don’t have any voluntary experience as yet – there are so many opportunities at university to do something like this and opportunities are easy to come by. Apart from that I didn’t have much other hands on experience in the charity sector but I showed that I had other useful skills that I had gained from other experiences such as my part-time job in a bar, being a peer mediator at school, as well as skills I had gained from specific parts of my university course so far.
Advice for others interested in the charity sector:
Definitely do take advantage of all the volunteering opportunities on offer while you’re at university – whether it’s joining a society or actually getting some hands on experience at a charity this will only strengthen your application for placements. Experience will give you more to talk about in an interview and will provide you with strong examples of when you have shown particular skills necessary for the role you are applying for. Also take advantage of what the Careers Centre has to offer! I found the CV checks and mock interviews extremely helpful and I don’t think I would have been prepared for my interview without these!
Sometimes with charities, it is just about getting your foot in the door, so don’t be put off if you think you are applying for a role that is not exactly what you want to do. Don’t underestimate the power of networking – although my placement is in fundraising, since being here I have become interested in the social work side of things here at the Bradford hospice and after making the effort to speak to the people responsible for that area of work, I have managed to gain some extra work experience with them in social work.
Finally, I think the most important thing of all is to show willing to give your all to a role and an interest in the cause!