These days, it can sometimes feel like there are barely any job opportunities out there while at the same time, too many different career options to decide what to commit to.
In this particular series, I am going to interview an eclectic mix of people who have found their feet in the daunting world of work - I hope this serves to give anyone who has recently left school or finished university an insight into the different types of career paths available out there from the words of those who really know what they’re talking about.
So, with that in mind, I caught up with Lynsey Thompson, a National Events Manager at Diabetes UK to get the lowdown…
Can you explain a bit about what you do at Diabetes UK and how long you've been at the charity?
I’ve been at Diabetes UK for almost 6 years now. Initially I was in the Supporter Care Team and now I’m part of the Events Team as National Events Manager. I manage a series of National Events such as the Channel Swim Relay, Ride London 100 and London to Paris. It’s my job to market these events and recruit participants for them. It’s then down to me to give them an excellent supporter journey and make sure they meet their fundraising target!
What you say has been your biggest challenge so far?
Taking on my current role has been quite a challenge as there is a lot to do and a lot of money to bring in! It is also challenging coming up with new ideas and events as a lot of charities are doing the same thing so we really have to stand out.
It must be fun being involved such a mix of national fundraising events. Which one is your favourite and why?
My favourite to manage is the Channel Swim Relay. We are only 1 of 2 charities which have this event on their portfolio so it’s really unique to us. Often people who do it don’t have a direct connection to our cause, so it’s a great way to engage with them. I love the whole lead up to the event (even the admin sometimes!) as we get to go to Dover twice a year for training weekends.
What made you want to get involved in the charity sector, and do you think it takes a certain type of person to work in this arena?
I always worked in customer care so I had a good way with people. My late nan had Diabetes and she was doing a lot of voluntary work in her community which inspired me, so I used my customer care skills to get my initial job at Diabetes UK. I think the most important skills to have when working for a charity are people skills, a strong knowledge of the cause (so you know what you are raising money for!) and patience as you can’t always get everything done when you want. I think anyone can work for a charity if they want to.
I'm guessing your job can be quite stressful at times. What do you do to unwind when you’re not at work?
My wedding is this summer so I am busy planning that when I am not working - although it’s not always the most relaxing thing to do! I also like to travel and visit friends and family. I also try to do a bit of exercise when I can!
Finally, what advice you give someone who is thinking about embarking on a career as a charity fundraiser?
It’s quite a competitive industry to be in, so be persistent. A great way to start is to become an intern or volunteer. Also think about what area of a charity you like and focus on that – there are a lot to choose from!
Thanks Lynsey, it’s been great talking to you!
So there you have it, a glimpse into the life of a bona fide National Events Manager. If you would like to find out more about work in the charity sector, pay a visit to Charity Jobs for the latest news, info and vacancies.
Look out for the next installment of Career Insights!
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