Working for a charity: Ailish's story

Meet Ailish, 25, from Oxford, and find out about life as a patient support and engagement team administrator at the British Heart Foundation. Part of our Bitesize world of work series.

Ailish at work, smiling at the camera.
"In my job, I can take an active role in improving people's lives."

What is your job?

My team works to involve patients in all of the work the British Heart Foundation does. This is because we want to make sure everything we produce – from online videos to information booklets – is what patients actually want to see.

This is done through events and engagement activities like our young support programme and grant scheme. Through the scheme, people can request funding from us to help them with studies into diseases.

What skills do you use at work?

People skills and being able to talk to people are massive in this job! I have to speak to lots of different people, such as carers, researchers, or young people. I also have to be very understanding of different people’s health conditions and what they may have been through in the past.

I have to balance lots of different projects so it's good to be organised and have good time management.

Ailish at work.
Ailish has always liked working with people and volunteered at a primary school when she was doing her GCSEs.

Was this the job you always wanted to do?

I wanted to be a midwife when I was younger. At school I enjoyed arts subjects. I studied Textiles at university and when I graduated I started working for an embroidery company.

However, I found the work environment wasn't for me and I wanted to try something different. Working for a charity, we work to help other people and I like working for a company that does good.

Top tips

  • If you can, volunteer in industries that you are interested in. You'll find jobs you never knew existed
  • There were a lot of jobs that I didn’t think I could do because of my dyslexia. Ask for help and you will get to where you want to be.

What to expect if you want to be an administrator

Ailish is responsible for administrative tasks in a charity. A charity is sometimes called a not-for-profit organisation. Administrators give support to all sorts of companies — usually in an office setting — by dealing with queries on the phone and via email, typing documents, and updating computer records.

  • Administrator salary: £13,000 to £30,000 per year
  • Administrator hours: 38 to 40 hours per week
  • Typical entry requirements: You could do a college course, which would teach you some of the skills and knowledge you need in this job, such as a Level 2 or 3 Diploma in Business and Administration. You could get into this job through an intermediate apprenticeship in business administration or a business administrator advanced apprenticeship. You’ll usually need some GCSEs (or equivalent), including English and Maths, for an intermediate apprenticeship, and five GCSEs (or equivalent) at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C) for an advanced apprenticeship. Many people apply directly.

This information is a guide (sources: LMI for All, National Careers Service)

For careers advice in all parts of the UK visit: England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales

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