Q and A with Emily East
What was it about this graduate scheme that made you apply?
I had been looking for opportunities to help develop a career in the charity sector but similarly to a lot of recent graduates, I wasn’t sure which particular area it was that I definitely wanted to work in.
When I saw this graduate scheme, I knew that I had to apply; the main reason was because as the name suggests, it is truly a unique scheme. No-one else in the charity sector was offering the chance to work for two such fantastic charities and I thought that the development opportunities would be greater than other schemes because you get the chance to work across departments and charities, giving you a really wide breadth of experience which I hoped would allow me to work out which areas within the sector I liked the most. Both charities are so well known and reputable, with causes that are hard not to care about and this really excited me as an opportunity.
How did you find the recruitment process?
I found the recruitment process similar to other graduate schemes but each of the stages (application form with CV, telephone interview and then the assessment centre) were laid out and explained very clearly. This meant that at each stage I knew roughly what to expect and how best to prepare. What stood out to me and was different to other recruitment processes I’ve experienced is that everyone was so warm and friendly and really wanted to get the best out of you. For example, at the assessment centre before the actual tasks, the other candidates and I got to have an informal lunch with people from both charities – this instantly relaxed me and put me at ease, meaning that I think I performed to the best of my abilities. The recruitment process actually made me want to get a place on the scheme even more because everyone involved had given me such a positive impression of what it might be like to work for either of the charities.
Have you any hints and tips for graduates when applying for our Graduate scheme?
As cliché as it sounds, the best tip that I can give is to be yourself – don’t be constantly thinking ‘what do the recruiters want to hear,’ but rather give honest answers to questions and don’t be afraid to show your personality. This way both you and the recruiters can work out whether you are the right fit to work for the scheme.
I would also say that although it is important to have a good knowledge of the sector and to talk about your previous experience, don’t forget that it is equally important to show your passion for wanting to work in the charity sector and the two charities specifically.
Finally I would advise to prepare and put in as much effort as you can for each stage. Don’t be tempted to not put your all into it because you think it’s really unlikely that you’ll be one of the four chosen because of all the other applicants. When I submitted my application form I didn’t think that I would end up with a place on the scheme but here I am! I really worked hard for each stage and I think it’s very unlikely that I’d have got my place without doing that.
What was your first month like?
My very first week was an induction week spent with all the other graduates. During this week I met lots of people from both charities (including my mentor, buddy and placement manager) and worked on finding out areas for personal development as well as developing current and new skills that would be useful throughout the graduate scheme. This was a great way to ease me into the scheme and it was particularly good to get to know and build a relationship with the other graduates as it would be useful to be able to communicate with them frequently throughout the scheme to support each other and share our experiences.
In my second week, I started in my first placement (Supporter Development at BHF). Throughout these first few weeks of the placement there was lots to learn and lots of people to meet. I had various inductions and training which really helped me gain an understanding of my department’s role as well as roles of departments within BHF more generally. I found that my placement manager gave me the time to learn and understand things before ‘throwing me in at the deep end’ and lots of training and development opportunities were highlighted to me. By the end of the first month I was working on a wide variety of interesting projects and felt fully supported with them.