Making a positive social impact in your career

Today, we have a guest post from a languages Alumna – Eloise Acland.  Eloise graduated in 2014 with First Class Degree in French and Spanish and went on to join the Year Here programme.  Year Here were on campus recently at our Careers Fair Third Day and are currently advertising on MyCareerHub.

When I graduated from Edinburgh I knew vaguely that I wanted to do something with a positive social impact, and that was about it. I discovered Year Here – a postgraduate course in social innovation – while scrolling through Escape the City after working in the field of international development and feeling like I needed a change. Having been frustrated by the lack of interesting entry level roles, as well as by the endless necessity of fundraising, Year Here’s emphasis on social enterprise and frontline work sounded very attractive.

Since I was still living abroad when I applied, I did my interviews via Skype. Despite reading through the prospectus, I still felt I didn’t really know what to expect when I arrived for the first week that started with a Kick-off bootcamp. These bootcamps pepper the programme and contain a mixture of talks, activities and challenges. They are long, exhausting but very exciting days. The notorious 24-hour challenge stands out as a real test of stamina and a proud boot camp moment.

After the first bootcamp the frontline placement begins. I was placed in a local authority service for young people leaving the care system. This was an incredible chance to get to know a problem I knew fairly little about. Learning about the experiences of the young people I was working with, and seeing the effect that being labelled as a ‘child in care’ can have, has had a huge impact on my life goals. Other placements included working at housing associations, homeless hostels, schools, pupil referral units and more. This meant that not only did we learn from our own placements, but also learned from each other’s experience. 

Following this we were assigned consulting projects. This felt like a real change of pace after having settled into placement. I worked with another fellow on an EU funded event for the YES Alliance, aimed at getting more young people interested in social enterprise. The projects were varied: from community consultation, to events, to consulting on programmes run by housing associations.

The last portion of the programme was the Incubator. This gives you freedom to work on and test out an idea for your own venture. In my cohort, many people finished Year Here with plans to take their venture forward. I developed Storeys with another fellow, which runs creative programmes in personal development and emotional wellbeing for young people leaving care. We were lucky enough to raise over £10,000 to get going, and now five months on have just completed our pilot programme, with two more starting soon. Had I not taken part in Year Here, there is absolutely no way that I would have been brave enough to set up my own social enterprise. The programme has a way of encouraging you to take risks, and convincing you that you are capable of much more than you would have thought possible.

Applications for Year Here close on 31st October 2016.

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