From RAGs to riches (sort of)

Posted on: 22 January 2015

I was on the Worthwhile scheme in 2012 to 2013, working as the Oxford Hub Programmes Officer. I had just graduated and while at university I had been really involved in the RAG fundraising group, running university-wide events and managing a big committee. I had loved it but assumed the creativity and energy it gave me wouldn’t be available in a job following university. At a careers fair in my third year, amongst the all-too-present consultancy and banking jobs, I signed up with Student Hubs who offer ethical internships (one of which I did with Platform 51 that summer). From there I applied for the Worthwhile scheme. I absolutely loved the time I spent at Oxford Hub, and smugly told my friends working for big corporates how much responsibility and freedom (and fun) I had in my work.

 

I was responsible for two national conferences, the Oxford Climate Forum and the Oxford Forum for International Development as well as running an awards scheme for students making an exceptional civic contribution, and various other projects and events. One of the best things about it was the people, from the bright and ambitious students who I supported, to the staff I worked with. The other people on the scheme became really close friends, they have high standards for the world they want to create and they’re impatient to do so in the best possible way. I also loved the atmosphere of the Oxford Hub building, complete with social action library and the Turl Street Kitchen (a social enterprise restaurant which funds the charity) I got really interested in the potential of business to do good in the world.

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While there, the scheme encouraged us to produce a piece of research on one area of our work. I had continued to be interested in fundraising and was delivering training on it across the Student Hubs Network. I decided my research would be a Handbook on Fundraising for young people. I was a little over ambitious on my time frame but a year and a half later (December 2014), I finished it and The Student Fundraising Handbook is now available internationally.  The book takes a much more balanced approach than many resources, has a lot of emphasis on fundraising considerately and also offers skills and employability advice for young people involved in fundraising. There are loads of events and initiatives in there too to spark your creativity. Since this was published I’ve also been awarded a grant to deliver more fundraising training with young people across the UK.

 

Following the Worthwhile scheme (and while writing the book) I wanted to get some understanding of how big business works and how it can have a positive (or at least significantly less negative) impact on the world. As such, I got a job in the Finance team at Innocent Drinks. In a lot of ways, it’s very different. Working for profit was a shock to the system, as was the use of Excel but a lot of the same values apply in both places. Innocent even funded the publishing of my book! The experience on the Worthwhile scheme undoubtedly got me the job as I had a real understanding of working with stakeholders at all levels, managing myself and others and innovating to get things done. This freedom to develop my own skills and projects and learn from the best is something I’ve been really lucky to have in both roles.

Sarah Hewett

Sarah Hewett was on the Worthwhile graduate scheme in 2012-13, working for Oxford Hub. She currently works at Innocent Drinks and has recently published her first book, 'The Student Fundraising Handbook'.

Tags: Social Impact Careers


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