Over two weeks ago, I had my last day working at BD Giving and couldn’t help but reflect on my journey and growth since joining the organisation a year ago.
After graduating in the midst of the pandemic, finding suitable employment was almost impossible given the brutality of the job market. Many people had been let go and so, as a fresh graduate, I was competing for entry level roles with people who were overqualified and had years of experience.
The majority of employers preferred candidates with experience so it was difficult to display my potential over my background despite the many applications and interviews I applied for over the two years.
At this point I had signed up to the Kickstart scheme where my Job advisor would recommend vacancies within my borough (Southwark) to apply for. By some stroke of luck or a glitch in the system BD Giving landed itself onto my list of recommended jobs despite being in a whole different borough. That was how I found myself in an interview with Geraud and Cameron without a clue of where the charity was based.
Prior to the interview I read up on what little information was provided by the recruiter since it was a referral and concluded that the only way through was to rely on my personality and potential. I had no background experience in the voluntary and community sector (VCS) let alone knew the difference between a company and an organisation but despite it all they still decided to take a chance on me.
There was so much for me to learn. This was my first time ever experiencing what the VCS was – the only voluntary bone I had in me was a 5k charity run where I barely made to the finish line!
I had a major misconception about the sector around giving up your time for free and so the realisation that you can and should be paid for your time even in the VCS was refreshing. Even more revolutionary was seeing how BD Giving was making an impact on the borough by introducing participatory grant making (PGM) and making funding as accessible for both the applicants and decision-makers. It was stimulating to be involved in facilitating the process and seeing projects that community members decided to fund through PGM succeed.
Personally I find myself very fortunate being able to learn first hand what the VCS is all about and having this opportunity in the first place despite my lack of experience. Within this small but growing team I was able to experience a variety of jobs from application software, general admin to understanding finance. Perhaps being a part of a small organisation means you are exposed to more areas outside of your specific job role but that’s exactly why I valued my time at BDG. As an individual still discovering what career to specialise in, the exposure to various fields was a golden opportunity.
I have learned many valuable skills and lessons in my time here as an inexperienced fresh graduate. I’ve built on my transferable skills and grown a lot as an individual when it comes to having confidence in knowing what I bring to the table. BD Giving taught me how to not be afraid to speak up and voice my opinion as a valued member of the team and it was also appreciated that I would bring a different perspective to everyone else in the room. We have different demographics and are all unique individuals with our own mindsets.
Learning about PGM and accessibility to funding has changed the way I now view all my actions outside of work and it encourages me to be more inclusive and considerate in helping everyone get to the same finish line by removing what would be the systemic barrier.
Be it the glitch in the system or Geraud taking a chance on my potential over experience, I’m forever grateful for being a part of BD Giving and starting my career in the VCS. Though I am leaving BD Giving this is not a permanent “goodbye” and more so a “see you soon” as I will continue to stay up to date with BD Giving’s latest and celebrate every step of the way.