Careers in the VCSE sector: the future is bright

Recently, our Marketing and Communications Manager Jule Wilson has been privileged to represent VONNE as part of two panels at different North East universities focused on careers in the VCSE sector.

In this blog post, she talks about her experience of two very different virtual events.

The first session I took part in came about by accident while I was looking for some support to raise awareness of something VONNE was promoting at the time. But I was pleased to be invited by Durham University to its session aimed specifically at current students from a range of disciplines that wanted to 'get a graduate job in the charity sector’. The panel on which I sat was wide-ranging, covering funding and fundraising, charity leadership, sector support, and research. It included:

  • Calum Masters, Senior Media Officer at Joseph Rowntree Foundation
  • Amy Campo McEvoy, Head of Programmes at The Kids Network
  • Guillermo Tosca, Research Manager at Think Young, and
  • Natalie Henson, Head Of People and Culture at Changing Lives.

What was particularly refreshing about the session was that not all the panellists were even in the UK, helping further highlight the breadth of opportunity that can be found in the VCSE sector, as well as demonstrating that digital technology isn't always a challenge to be surmounted, but can bring about opportunities to connect within and across sectors. 

The 42 students, one of which coincidentally became our new Communications and Events Support Assistant Nathan Choat, who has written his own account of the experience, were really engaged. Questions ranged from the practicalities of getting wind of potential paid roles in the sector, to more searching ones about the impact of Covid-19.

Thinking differently

The second event was part of Newcastle University’s Develop series for alumni, each of which has been centred around different industries. 

Again, it was a wide-ranging panel, with representatives from large national organisations as well as small, local charities, and there was a variety of experiences among us. Executive Director of External Affairs at Changing Lives, Laura Seebohm and I both came to the sector from professional backgrounds in other fields – journalism and the probation service respectively, while fellow panellist Thomas Monaghan, from Citizens Advice Northumberland, explained he’d been involved in the sector as a volunteer since the age of 11, when he was part of the team at Beamish. And Andrew Bickerdike has previously been both a musician and a recruitment consultant, so the huge number of routes into a VCSE career certainly came across to those in attendance, as Andrew now runs a hospitals charity serving those across Surrey and Sussex.

Across both events, the incredible passion of my fellow panellists was abundant, and together, we hopefully dispelled a few myths about working as part of the vast VCSE community. Judging by the questions put to us, which touched upon the need to diversify and how to do so, welcoming experience gained from working in other disciplines, and how organisations can offer useful experience without alienating those from less privileged backgrounds, the talent pipeline coming into our many organisations is as strong as ever.