In 2011, I found myself accidentally on the committee of Southampton Hub (it’s a long story). Since then, I’ve been with Student Hubs in two universities, three cities, two internships, three jobs and more Freshers’ fairs than I care to mention. As a student I organised conferences, led a committee and launched a volunteering programme. As a staff member I’ve (briefly) led our impact activities, run a national programme, and now I manage a Hub.
Hitting my five year anniversary has led me to reflect on my experience working in social impact. Here are some of the things that have been so great about committing most of my adult life so far (!) to Student Hubs.
1. We nurture talent.
Student Hubs has an unwavering commitment to its staff and volunteers. When I was a student, one of the Directors even came to my house to bring me spinach because she had a meeting nearby and had heard I was under the weather. Everyone in the team seeks out and nurtures talent, even if you forget to attach your CV to an internship scheme application (a true story, but not a recommended application tactic). As a student and a staff member, I’ve been encouraged to lead projects and initiatives, usually with a fair amount of freedom. However, this has always been carefully balanced by support and training at every level. From local Hub Support Officers to Talent Champions (internal mentors) for staff, support is always available.
2. We’re part of something big.
There’s something about Student Hubs that sticks, meaning you never have to look far to find a community of wonderful people. Our summer Hubathon brings staff and students together at the idyllic Hogacre Common for camping, bonding and training. I’ve lived with work colleagues, I still hang out with people I met through Southampton Hub, and I keep up to date with the students I’ve supported. It’s hard to walk through the Turl Street Kitchen in Oxford without bumping into someone I know from somewhere. On a particularly good day, one of those people might even leave a brownie behind the bar for me (also a true story). We also get to work with some amazing organisations, who are an endless source of inspiration.
3. We expect the best.
That said, Student Hubs expects the best, which includes doing difficult work (it took me the best part of a year to rewrite our Theory of Change). Although our team is young, we know what we’re doing – there’s no such thing as ‘too junior’. Everyone appreciates constructive feedback and we work extremely hard to keep improving our activities and impact.
4. We encourage experimentation.
Everyone is encouraged to explore areas outside of our roles. I may only have graduated three years ago but I’ve dabbled in project management, impact analysis, key account management, learning and development, and innovation. I’ve worked on a local team, decided I preferred the national team, and then moved right back to local. I’ve always had side projects and my interests and career plans can change from day to day. Student Hubs appreciates that, giving me the time to try out different areas and see what fits.
In short, my social impact career journey so far has been varied, I’ve been pushed out of my comfort zone and I’ve met some of my favourite people. There’s nothing quite like working on something you care about. Our vision makes me fizz inside with excitement – one day, every university student
might will volunteer alongside their studies and just think what kind of a world that would be! Being in a room full of people who share that goal is the best feeling.