I was responsible for the overall running of the programme, the management of seasonal staff, and the pastoral care and development of young people aged 15-17 from a wide variety of backgrounds.
1. To what extent did you enjoy your work placement or internship?
Working on NCS The Challenge was an incredible experience! This is due to the people I worked with and the pleasure in watching the young people grow individually and as a team. The energy provided by the young people made it an absolute pleasure coming into work every day (even if I was completely exhausted!). I definitely enjoyed it.
2. To what extent did you feel valued by your colleagues?
Working as such a tight knit team meant that we all valued each other's support and company. At times when we were feeling stressed, tired or had a problem - we shared with the rest of the group and worked together to support each other and to come up with solutions. As Programme Leader I took a lead in supporting the senior mentors, and felt they valued that extra support when they were struggling, and appreciated me making a decision when one needed to be made.
3. To what extent were you given support and guidance by management/your supervisor(s)?
Whilst out on the programme there was 24 hour support given for emergency situations, and general support given for 12 hours of the day. This meant that for any problem that arose, I had someone else to talk to. During the non-residential part of the programme I was very well supported by my assistant programme manager (a core member of staff) who was onsite every day, who delivered the logistics of the programme. This meant I could focus on supporting my team, and ensuring the young people made the most of the programme.
4. How busy were you on a daily basis?
Roles on NCS The Challenge are intense, and every member of staff is busy (this comes with the nature of residential youth work!). At times, although I felt stretched in many directions I felt like I was really making a worthwhile difference to the young people and staff team on the programme. With so many new experiences and skills gained – I wouldn’t want it any other way.
5. How much responsibility were you given during your placement?
As Programme Leader I was responsible for managing a team of seven staff members, and the care of 80 young people. For such a short placement it gives you the chance to use and develop skills that placements of a similar length wouldn’t offer you. It genuinely is an amazing opportunity to gain and progress your leadership skills within a worthwhile and positive role, where you really can make a difference.
6. To what extent did/will the skills you developed, and training you received, assist you in your degree studies and beyond?
A large part of my role was addressing all the young people together as a big group. This enhanced my communication skills and ability to convey important information in an engaging way. This has helped me in my presentation skills throughout university, particularly when relaying scientific information.
Another major skill I gained was the ability to look at the bigger picture and make decisions based on this, whilst having taken the time to really understand the situation. This has helped me endlessly when I’ve found myself in challenging situations, or at times when a lot is happening, and a decision needs to be made quickly.
7. What was the general atmosphere in your office?
The atmosphere on the programme (never an office…more likely to be a school, wood, outdoor centre or any other location you can think of!) was always of high energy, creativity and most of the time – extremely busy. With five teams of young people all excited and charged for the activities – this atmosphere energised the staff team – even if we were feeling exhausted.
8. How well organised was the overall work placement or internship set up?
For such a large programme organisation was essential, and NCS The Challenge made sure it was as organised as possible. This meant that there was a smooth handover at the beginning of the programme, and because of this the young people had a very positive experience. At some times things didn't go to plan, but this is inevitable in this kind of programme.
9. In terms of personal training and development, to what extent did the company or firm invest in you?
Before the programme I attended a training weekend which trained us in the programme and the specific roles themselves. This was a really good opportunity to meet other people, and to bounce ideas off each other. The training was quite specific to NCS The Challenge but drew upon and developed transferable skills for youth work and leadership.
10. What were the perks on your work placement?
There were no perks with
11. How appealing are future employment prospects within the organisation?
The Challenge itself a nationwide charity that employs over 500 people, and working on the programme gives you a real understanding of what the programme itself is all about, along with the values, and mission of the charity as a whole. Working within a seasonal role on NCS can definitely work in your favour when applying for a permanent position within The Challenge, as you gain a deeper understanding of the charity other candidates may not have.
12. Was there a good social scene amongst any fellow placement students/colleagues?
The nature of the programme means that there isn't much time for socialising outside of work, as the main focus is on the young people. However, working together means that you make friends quickly with your colleagues, and help support each other.
13. What was the cost of living and socialising in the area you worked in?
Once I was at the residential venues all food was provided, as well as transport within the programme (i.e. to partner organisations and local community centres). Therefore apart from the cost of extra food, and transport to and from work, the cost of living and socialising was minimal. During the programme you are so busy – there aren’t many opportunities to spend money, even if you wanted to. It really is a great chance to save!
14. What was the Nightlife like in the area you worked?
There is no time for nightlife, as the focus of the programme is the young people.
15. Were there many opportunities to get involved in activities outside of work?
During the programme you are solely involved in working with the young people. You don’t get any chance for activities outside of work. However, after the programme has finished you become part of the alumni group. Ever since finishing the programme I have received monthly newsletters, invites for networking events, and opportunities to stay involved. After the programme there is a real chance to meet new people, and to continue being a part of NCS The Challenge.