A unique placement working with and inspiring young people through a challenging and diverse summer programme.
NCS with The Challenge offered an experience that developed so many skill-sets in one placement. I was able to meet a variety of people from seasonal staff working directly on the programme, to professional and charity partners that we interact with as part of the programme.
It was a totally unique experience and I have completed over 10 of these placements now as I have been able to progress through the roles each year.
Being a seasonal staff member is very intensive however it is the most rewarding job I have ever had as you are on the ground and get to directly see the impact you have on the young people that take part.
There are of course core staff, however whilst undertaking this placement, you spend most of your time with the seasonal staff hired for that particular programme. Most people have never met before or done the programme before so you all get to go on the NCS journey together.
By the end of the 18 day programme, you are a bonded family as you have been through the highs and lows of the programme together and overcome the problems along the way with the help and support of all the seasonal staff.
Before taking up this role, you attend a training weekend which gives an overview of the programme, staff expectations, safeguarding and how to deal with challenging behaviour.
Whilst on the programme, there is always a senior team member on hand at the sight as well as core staff on the other end of the phone 24/7 if you need to talk.
I took part in this programme at the end of my degree however the skills I have learnt are unbelievable. The NCS programme develops its staff as well as the young people who take part and more than anything it teaches you life skills and how to push yourself to get a result no matter what.
The main skills I have taken away from this programme are as follows and are beneficial whether still at university or embarking on a career path:
- Making decisions under pressure
- Problem solving
- Managing challenging and disruptive behaviour
- Public speaking
- Coaching and mentoring
- Working with others who have learning difficulties and how to support them
- How to motivate others and get the best out of a team
The list could go on - essentially you get out as much as you put in!
NCS The Challenge is very structured at its core - the programme has set days and stages that all the placements follow.
Whilst on the programme however, things can change quite dramatically and very quickly. This is due to the amount of external factors that can affect the programme on the ground such as charity and professional partners pulling out, young people with additional support needs amending the structure of the programme, staff members dropping out of their placements etc.
If you are looking to improve your flexibility skills, then this will set you up just right for that however if you someone that struggles with schedules changing at the last minute, NCS The Challenge is not for you. All its seasonal staff need to be able to embrace changes on the programme in a positive way for the benefit of the young people.
The atmosphere on an NCS The Challenge wave is high positive energy and is very infectious! The seasonal staffs role in a nutshell is to guide the young people through their journey safely and keeping them happy and motivated throughout.
Because of this, and the exciting activities that take place, it is a great atmosphere to work in and an extremely rewarding one. It is very fast-paced as there is always something going on that requires your attention however it is also full to the brim of beautiful, unique, life affirming moments shared between staff and young people.
You will leave your placement with a real sense of accomplishment and desire to do more.
In order to get the most out of this placement, you have to put in what you want to get out. If you fully immerse yourself, talk to other staff members and ask lots of questions and request feedback on your performance and tips for how to improve, there is no limit to the professional development that can be derived from taking part in NCS The Challenge.
You get to interact with various departments of the organisation through your journey as a seasonal staff member and get to know what each department does briefly.
All seasonal staff members have to embody The Challenge culture when working on their NCS programme. They are very transparent in their desire to encourage social mixing through young people taking part in NCS and the placement mirrors that.
I realised how passionately I felt about social mixing and social inclusion however the NCS programme has so many different factors that others have been able to discover their passions, like safeguarding of young people or accessing hard to reach young people or even working with one of the hundreds of charity partners the organisation works in partnership with.
The different roles are all paid slightly different amounts however as a Senior Mentor I was paid £85 per day for the 18 day role.
Absolutely. As already mentioned, the programme interacts with many different professional and charity partners and it is a great way to network with organisations within your local area.
As they we all in the context of the programme, they were not specifically set up for the benefit of the staff. However because you are meeting these partners in a professional setting - it gives you a great start as they already respect the work you are doing and it makes them have an interest in you.
I have been kept in the loop via an email newsletter about other opportunities with NCS The Challenge.
Without a doubt!