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Board membership

(16 Posts)
HelloPossums Mon 21-Mar-16 23:33:42

Hi everyone! smile (Sorry in advance for the mammoth post!!)

I graduated from uni last year, and I'm applying for a PGCE now to hopefully start from this September. Since graduating, I've been looking at lots of different ways of getting job experience and also trying out new roles that I didn't get the chance to do at uni.

The areas I've become particularly interested in include school governor roles and trustee positions with charities.

Recently, I applied for a trustee position with an organisation working with young people, which is something that I'd love to get involved in. I had a phone interview for the trustee role last week, and was sent an email earlier letting me know that I'd been unsuccessful but that they'd be happy to recommend me to other charities for similar trustee positions.

My question is whether I might be too inexperienced at the moment for trustee roles (I'm 24, graduated last year and have never served on boards before) or whether I should still continue to apply for these kinds of roles to get the ball rolling and to accumulate experience?

I suppose it's a sort of chicken and egg situation where I don't have experience of serving on boards to get me even further experience, so at the moment I would just like to get some exposure to start me off.

Also, just another quick question smile - does anyone know if charity governance roles (or similar) are valued when it comes to giving people responsibility and management positions in the workplace (obviously in addition to how well people have done in their workplace thus far) or whether it's best for me to put off applying for charity governance roles until I've reachd a senior position in the workplace (ie. many moons from now...! grin)

Thanks everyone!! Hope my psot is understandable (I know it rambles on a fair bit!!) wink

MovingOnUpMovingOnOut Mon 21-Mar-16 23:44:41

Realistically you're not going to get one of these positions based on your experience. You might get one if there are no other applicants.

I think instead of shooting for the moon you should consider some practical and supported volunteer roles.

Charity trustees are supposed to be offering the benefit of their wisdom and experience. You currently have neither to offer.

HelloPossums Tue 22-Mar-16 00:02:18

Thanks so much for your reply @MovingOnUp smile your advice is really useful. With practical and supported volunteer roles, could you give an example of the kinds of roles you mean please? For instance, I currently do weekly volunteering for Guides as an Assistant Leader, but I'd be interested if you had any suggestions about any further options? Thanks!

MovingOnUpMovingOnOut Tue 22-Mar-16 00:08:47

Volunteering for guides sounds brilliant. The next step would be to think about what transferable skills you have acquired and how you can relate them to the jobs you apply for. You also need to think about the behavioural attributes you have demonstrated with some practical examples.

EBearhug Tue 22-Mar-16 00:26:19

There's lots you can do - if you've got a STEM background, then STEMNet will have lots of opportunities. There are all sorts of things like regular mentoring at STEM clubs, helping people work for Crest Awards, or assisting with one-off events. Also, if you're already working with Guides, they're currently doing a Stay Connected competition.

There are probably loads of similar things - I know mostly about STEM-related stuff, because that's where my energies tend to get spent. But I'd bet you'd find there will be all sorts of voluntary groups to give you relevant experience, depending on what your focus is - e.g. drama groups, craft groups, writing groups, sports groups.

Don't know about charity trustee/governance roles specifically, so can't advise with that.

HelloPossums Tue 22-Mar-16 00:38:54

Thanks so so much @Moving and @bearhug smile I'll definitely look into the options you've posted here. My background is in languages (did an MFL degree and hoping to do MFL PGCE) so will definitely have a look at voluntary groups that I can help with.

EBearhug Tue 22-Mar-16 02:20:43

I'm sure there will be conversation groups around. I do a language class by Skype...

MrsMargoLeadbetter Tue 22-Mar-16 10:04:12

I disagree that trusteeship positions are only for the experienced. Typically UK charity boards are full of white male 50+ men which is something that there are calls to change.

Charities should have diverse boards and young people (of which you are one compared to me!) bring a different view and different experiences which could be v useful to the charity.

Don't be put off. I think trusteeships are very helpful for your CV.

If you are in/near London there is a social group called (I think) London Young Charity Trustees. They have socials every now and then. There is also a Young Trustees LinkedIn group.

It might be worth thinking about what skills and experience you have that could be of interest to charities and applying for roles based on that basis. However, you do need an interest in their cause - it could be v tedious otherwise.

Have you registered on Reach? They do a bit of match making which can help.

Good luck. The sector needs new blood so please keep trying.

HelloPossums Tue 22-Mar-16 16:07:03

@MrsMargo thank you! That's all really helpful smile Reach sounds like a great idea, I'll definitely look into getting registered.

Could I ask if anyone currently serves on a board? I'd find it hugely helpful if you could give a brief summary of the sort of volunteering and employment experience you've had before or whilst serving on boards as a trustee. Thanks so much!

HermioneWeasley Tue 22-Mar-16 20:05:43

The role of boards is to provide oversight to management and operations. They are there to provide challenge, guidance and an external perspective as part of a governance framework.

Unless there is a position on the board for some sort of youth representative, I'm afraid you're unlikely to get a position, or have much to offer.

There are loads of interesting jobs and volunteer roles you can do in the meantime - go and explore and have fun!

MrsMargoLeadbetter Tue 22-Mar-16 21:12:25

Yes I do. I think I was attractive due to my marketing experience. I was 33 when I first became a trustee. But even with experience I interviewed for a few and didn't get offered them all. I have also worked in the sector, which is why I find it disappointing that it is suggested you cannot contribute.

You might need to go for a smaller charity. Even with work experience I knew it was unlikely that the big 'brand' name charities would want me until I had more experience of being a trustee. Orgs like the Samartians have recruitment days as interest in their board is so high.

You might want to look at this publication on young trustees which is all about what people like you can deliver for charities as trustees.

A quote from it below. Leon Ward is a well known charity blogger who is a young trustee.

Leon Ward, Trustee, Plan UK and Brook, @LeonJward:

"A board’s strength lies in its collective skills and perspectives. To understand the charity’s beneficiaries properly and serve them effectively, it needs a diverse range of people from a variety of backgrounds and experience. Trustees should particularly consider the benefits young people can bring to the boardroom such as new talents and a fresh perspective. In return, trusteeship is an excellent way for young people to learn new skills and progress professionally. These issues are
central to the Trustees’ Week campaign, spearheaded by the Charity Commission and a wider partner group. I encourage those who are considering trusteeship to get involved and read our guidance for more information – and if you’re already on a board, start thinking outside the box more when recruiting; what could take your charity to the next level?"

cheerup Tue 22-Mar-16 21:32:33

I'm a trustee and director of a charitable company limited by guarantee. I have 20 years work experience since graduation although I had no volunteer experience before becoming a trustee. While I agree that trustee boards benefit from diversity, it is an important and sometimes challenging role, with responsibilities in law, and I wouldn't see it as a way to gain experience immediately after graduation. As a board member you share overall responsibility for the the management and leadership of the charity, in the interests of the charity and it's stakeholders including funders, beneficiaries and employees. It's a lot to take on in your early 20s without much experience. However, once you have some professional/management experience amd if you have the necessary skills and confidence to challenge and influence as part of a board, becoming a trustee is a great way to get strategic experience and is very rewarding

My trustee colleagues are a mix of general managers/professionals and other trustees with specific functional (accounting, law) or relevant sector experience.

If its an area that interests you, have you considered pursuing a career in governance? Training as a company secretary is likely to give you an accelerated route to trusteeship (and potentially paid board level positions eventually) and governance roles tend to be reasonably well paid even in the not-for-profit sector & very well paid for plc company secretaries.

I can't emphasise enough the governance aspects of trusteeship; it isn't like volunteering in other ways. As a trustee you are responsible The Charity Commission's Essential Trustee is a must read.

MovingOnUpMovingOnOut Tue 22-Mar-16 21:56:25

My post said wisdom or experience. I didn't say the former was based on age.

My point was as a trustee you have to be offering something and using it as an opportunity to get something (ie experience) is not going to work.

cheerup Tue 22-Mar-16 22:46:16

To be fair I think a lot of trustees use it as an opportunity to get board level experience as well as offering their (often considerable) time, skills and expertise. A fair quid pro quo in my book.

MovingOnUpMovingOnOut Tue 22-Mar-16 23:00:23

I don't disagree cheerup but the op is not currently in a position to offer her side of the bargain - based on what she's said about her experience and motivation.

senua Tue 22-Mar-16 23:13:10

If you want to get on a PGCE course then you need classroom experience, not charity / trusteeships.
Once you are into PGCE / NQT then I'm not sure that you will have the spare time for other things.
I think that you are trying to run before you can walk.

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