The Third Sector
The third sector includes community groups, housing, social enterprises, environmental groups, trade unions and non-government organisations. Often small charities can only afford to pay a couple of people, who can each turn their hand to anything and have the flexibility and confidence to be spokesperson, decision maker as well as organising admin systems. These positions offer the chance for graduates to learn valuable transferable skills and knowledge. You might work in animal welfare, human rights, environmental, arts and culture, youth and community work, disability, IT, health, education, policy, housing, HR, fundraising and volunteer management but the list of opportunities is endless!
Charities don’t tend to accept CVs or recruit graduates, but will ask you to keep an eye on opportunities that will be coming up. They may have a newsletter or e-bulletin you can sign up to. You may have to complete an application form which will include a lengthy personal statement (usually no more than 2 sides of A4) explaining how you meet a person specification. In specialist roles, such as counselling or finance it will be an advantage to have a relevant qualification. Degrees in social based subjects may give you an advantage, but employers will be much more interested in practical skills and knowledge you have gained, whether that’s through voluntary work or paid experience.
It's always helpful to get your name known. Consider volunteering or doing temporary work for an organisation.
Usually comparatively flexible working conditions with some part-time working and job-sharing.
Salaries tend to be lower in the not-for-profit sector, reflecting the need to use funds for the benefit of the community. Larger charities often offer more generous salaries to attract the best candidates.
Vacancies in small organisations may only be advertised locally or in specialist publications. Larger organisations are likely to have the resources to advertise more widely.
Graduate profile: Ms. McMeeken from Barnardo's
1. What subject(s) did you graduate in and from where?
Master of Art in Social Work from The Glasgow School of Social Work: University of Glasgow and University of Strathclyde.
2. What is your current job role? Please provide a brief description of your duties
I work as a Project Worker Level 2 (qualified social worker). My main duties are to work as part of a team providing support, information, advice and advocacy to vulnerable young people aged 18 years and under, particularly those young people at risk of involvement in offending behaviour and other risk factors. I provide advice, support and services to children, young people and their families in accordance with the aims and objectives of the service and work with children, young people and their families, on a one to one or group basis, using a variety of interventions, to identify needs and to achieve positive outcomes.
I also work in partnership with parents/carers to empower them and to enable them to achieve better outcomes for their children and work co-operatively with children’s services, health agencies and other community based services, to provide the most effective service for children young people and families. It is also my responsiblity to apply safeguarding and child protection procedures.
3. What skills, knowledge and qualities does your job require?
4. What are the benefits of the degree/qualification(s) you studied for?
The degree course equipped me with skills and confidence to start out as a newly qualified social worker. Learning of roles, theories and practice placements allowed me to develop skills which I use on a daily basis in my current role. I also learned about the importance of supervision and this is a skill I use to explore my practice, identify areas of development and training opportunities and to reflect of my work load.
5. Are there any additional activities or work experience that helped you?
I have a strong youth work background and experience of working with children with disabilities and those in foster care. I also worked for a national children’s advice/helpline.
6. Is there any other advice you would give to someone interested in working in a similar field?
Working intensively with vulnerable people can be both rewarding and challenging. Face the challenges and be open to learning new skills, techniques and aspects of yourself. Don’t forget that engagement is a 2-way process that requires respect to the service users and a belief that they can make positive choices and changes in their lives. Try and obtain work experience relevant to the filed you wish to study/work in.
7. How did you find your current job and what was the application process like?
I began as an agency worker to try and find out what sector I wanted to work in. This was my first placement and I decided to apply for a full time post and have never looked back. The application process was hard as it was competitive interviewing. I had to complete an application form and was fortunate to be offered an interview. Although no young people attended my interview the project actively encourages young people to be a part of the recruitment process for new workers.
8. What do you think are the main keys to success in your field?
Commitment, hard work, belief in children and families and their ability to effect change for better outcomes, genuiness and the desire to continue to learn and develop as a practitioner.
9. What are your future career options?
I can work in a variety of fields in the UK and abroad in the statutory social work sector, voluntary sector and private sector. I can also work in youth work and the care sector.
10. How has being lesbian, gay or bisexual impacted your career, if at all?
I wouldn’t say it has impacted on my career at this stage. I am conscious that some service users comment on my sexuality and some young people can make fun of it. However, this is part of learning for the service users and I. There have been occasions in university were my identity as a lesbian impacted on my studies. This was due to the course not particularly catering for LGBT people in terms of essay topics etc as there were major changes in legislation such as same sex civil partnerships and adoption and fostering for gay and lesbian people. I found this frustrating and diss-empowering at times.
11. How important was it that your university provided specific services/advice for you as an LGB student?
I was a member of the LGBT society at Strathclyde University. This service didn’t particularly provide any advice for me as a lesbian student. It was more social based and run by older students. However, it did show a commitment by the university to LGBT students.