Current Employer/Organisation Name
The Social Value Portal
What have you been doing since leaving Exeter, and what are you doing now?
After graduating, I didn’t have a clear idea of what career I wanted to do so I worked as a teacher of English as a Foreign Language in Moscow for a year. I then took a job as an in-house translator and translation project manager for a small translation company. I worked in this role for 18 months, but found that I wanted a job which was more varied and involved working with other people more. I took a job working as a Customer Service Specialist with a start-up. Although it was an entry-level role, I liked the ethos of the company and it had a lot of scope for growth. I was promoted to Senior Customer Service Specialist and worked closely with Finance. I also worked on training new hires, writing process documents and managing workload in the team. This helped me gain confidence that I could take a leadership role, something I was very doubtful of while at university. Six months ago, I took a job as Social Value Adviser. This is essentially a Customer Success role for a software as a start-up company which helps other organisations to measure, monitor and report on their Social Value — initiatives they are involved in such as volunteering, hiring apprentices and reducing carbon emissions, that promote better business and community wellbeing. My work involves onboarding new clients both in the public and private sector, training them on our framework and how to use our software, and advising them on how to develop Social Value within their organisation.
Why did you choose this career? And what do you enjoy most about your work?
I like working for a company that has ambitious goals and wants to contribute something positive to society, and working with a team of smart, interesting people. My job is varied, challenges me and gives the opportunity to innovate on what we’re doing currently. I didn’t set out with a specific career in mind, but learned more about what interests me as I gained work experience.
Please tell us if you were a member of any societies, groups or sports clubs?
I was involved in a few societies including the German Society but it wasn’t a huge part of my student life.
What did you enjoy most about your programme and what was the biggest highlight?
I really enjoyed studying Russian ab initio and learning about a country and culture which I had previously known little about. My favourite classes were in Russian literature, particularly a class on the golden age of Russian poetry where we discussed poems in small groups each week.
What did you enjoy most about studying here?
I most enjoyed my year abroad, getting to study and travel and make international friends.
Why did you choose to study at Exeter?
I liked the campus and was interested in the programme.
What skills and experiences have been most useful for your career?
Having lived and worked in Russia made me stand out to employers as something a bit unusual. My translation work was useful because it required great attention to detail, while the customer service experience was useful because it allowed me to show that I have good communication and relationship management skills, and I could point to specific outcomes that I had helped achieve. Being in a position where I could train and mentor others was a very important development for me.
What advice would you give to a current student who wishes to pursue your career?
Working for a start-up is a great way to gain experience if you don’t want to apply for a grad scheme and are someone who likes to take initiative and solve problems, though it also comes with challenges and pressures. It’s quite common to move jobs, particularly in the early stages of your career, and I try to have the perspective that doing a good job is important but work doesn’t have to be your whole life.
What are your plans for the future?
I would like to gain more knowledge and experience in sustainability and account management and hope to develop with my company as it grows.