Bethan discovers the secret to employability!

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Hi, my name is Bethan Roper and I graduated with a degree in History and Politics at Cardiff Metropolitan University a few months ago. Pretty soon after graduating, I arranged a meeting with the University’s career advisor to get some help on how to take the (daunting!) first step into a career. Having done work experience at an immigration charity in my second year, I knew I wanted a career working with migrants, but I also knew I needed more experience before anyone would employ me. My advisor suggested the GO Wales Work Taster programme (http://www.gowales.co.uk/en/Graduate/tasters). She explained that a Work Taster was different from traditional work experience – I wouldn’t just be making coffee or filing but would actually be given real work to do, so I could see what it was truly like to be employed in the sector. She went through the simple application process with me and it wasn’t long before I found out I had been offered a two week placement at the Welsh Refugee Council! (http://welshrefugeecouncil.org.uk/)

Straight away this placement felt different from any other I had been on. On my first day I was placed in the Policy and Communications department (which was perfect for me because of my background in politics) and had a meeting with the head of the department – Hannah, who asked me what I would like to do with my time here. I told her I wanted to learn as much as possible, and find out how and where I could be useful. Immediately I felt not just welcomed, but as if I could really be valuable to the organisation. Althea (the Media and Communications Officer) promised I wouldn’t just be filing or typing but would get real Officer experience during my time there.

I’ve been at the WRC for over two weeks now and I feel like I’ve learnt so much – not just about refugees and asylum seekers and the issues affecting them, but about the machinery of a charity; marketing and communication, fundraising, the website and social media, casework, policy and event planning. My work here has been mainly behind the scenes; researching the policies which affect refugees and asylum seekers, helping to plan Refugee Week, making notes on the upcoming website or on fundraising ideas. However I am so glad I have also been given the chance to shadow caseworkers in their meetings with asylum seekers and refugees. Despite me asking probably dozens of questions, the caseworkers were happy to explain anything and everything and couldn’t have been friendlier. Meeting the refugees and asylum seekers who came to the WRC for help and support was really enlightening and has gave me a genuine insight into the important work the WRC does.

In this period of scarce jobs and few opportunities for young people, when so many of my friends have left university only to end up in a call centre, I feel like I‘ve stumbled upon a secret to employability. The WRC have invited me to continue the work I’m doing with them as a volunteer and I plan on volunteering with them as much as I can, developing skills which can be transferred into future employment opportunities. Gaining experience in the area you want a career in is essential, and I would definitely recommend Work Tasters to any students or graduates who want a taste of employment in their chosen field.