Current Employer/Organisation Name
Cancer Research UK
What have you been doing since leaving Exeter, and what are you doing now?
I left the University of Exeter and Joined CRUK’s graduate scheme where I joined the fundraising and marketing stream. I completed four rotations across the business and secured my current role in Philanthropy and Partnerships – an area of CRUK which works with Corporate Partners and high net worth donors to accelerate the charity’s ambition to beat cancer sooner.
Why did you choose this career? And what do you enjoy most about your work?
I chose this career path as I was keen to join a structured graduate scheme – it is a great way to pick up experience through working on a number of different projects in a short space of time. Now I am a Project Manager I enjoy working on some of the new and exciting projects we have in the pipeline at CRUK. This has recently included an expansion in to the US philanthropy space and looking at how best we can deliver our portfolio of events. The variety of the projects I work on is a major plus!
Please tell us if you were a member of any societies, groups or sports clubs?
I was a committee member of the Sociology, Anthropology and Criminology Society, a BUCS player for the University’s Snooker and Pool Club. I was a part of other clubs and groups but these took up most of my time.
Were you part of the Exeter Student Ambassador Scheme at any point during your studies?
What did you enjoy most about your programme and what was the biggest highlight?
I enjoyed learning from some of the best in their field. The lecturers were all great and the number of elective modules meant I was able to shape my degree based on my interests. My biggest academic highlight was probably finishing my dissertation and receiving a 76. I wrote about the way in which different New Social Movements evaluate their success and up to the last moment I had no idea whether I smashed it or failed! It was a relief to see my hard work pay off.
What did you enjoy most about studying here?
I enjoyed the number of events and social activities on throughout the week, from club nights to debates. It meant my week would be varied and mixed academic/political interest and time to “let my hair down”.
Why did you choose to study at Exeter?
The lecturers and the course had a solid reputation. The courses looked interesting and the taster lecture at Exeter’s open day sold me on that. Another reason I chose Exeter was because I liked having a campus university very close to a city.
What skills and experiences have been most useful for your career?
One of the key skills that I’d really highlight is around communication and stakeholder engagement. Regardless of the job you do coming out of university, all jobs have stakeholders and developing a skillset which allows you to influence them effectively and secure their buy-in for your project/work is critical.
What advice would you give to a current student who wishes to pursue your career?
For those who want to go into the Charity Sector: I’d say that graduate schemes aren’t the only route into the sector. Many smaller charities have graduate-level opportunities and don’t be afraid to reach out them directly. The bigger charities often have schemes available for graduates but many also have graduate-level vacancies and internships (internships are a great way to get a foot in the door). For a career in project management: I think it’s key to look at roles beyond project management for your first role. The reason I’d say that is a project manager is often working closely with those who deliver projects and are quite removed from the delivery of a project. Having knowledge of the role that your delivery peers do is really key and will help you massively as you can see their perspective clearly. The graduate scheme I completed was two years long and gave me this experience before I did anything in project management and that is really helping me now. That being said, there are some really good project management graduate schemes and some really cool PMO (Project Management Office) roles that are fit for graduates, too!
What are your plans for the future?
I am keen to explore options to secure formal qualifications in project management or make a move into strategy. I think strategy is a really interesting area of any business and the skills used in project management is quite transferable, although strategy teams require you to have good levels of strategic and critical thinking as well. But in truth, I think there are so many routes available and many I still don’t fully understand and I think I need to really take time to look more closely at what options are available to me and what that could provide me in the future.