Case study

Communications and engagement officer — Rebekah Hayes

With responsibility for all communications at the charity Bipolar UK, Rebekah has a varied and rewarding role. Discover what she enjoys the most about her job

How did you get your job?

After graduating from The University of Manchester with an undergraduate degree in linguistics, I applied for roles through the university's MGP programme, which works with local organisations and businesses to employ graduates.

I also continued to volunteer for charities such as Oxfam and the Pankhurst Centre, before working full time. My volunteering and campaigning experience throughout university also helped to demonstrate that I was serious about working within the charity sector.

I initially worked for a children's charity in Manchester in a communications and marketing role. I completed the internship and was made a permanent member of staff. After nearly two years there, I moved to another young people's charity in London.

I now work for Bipolar UK as the communications and engagement officer.

How relevant is your degree to your job?

My linguistics degree helped me develop plenty of skills that are essential for my job.

I use many of the skills I gained during my degree. For example, the ability to solve problems quickly and manage conflicting deadlines. This is particularly important as my job description is so broad. Working closely with other students on various projects also enhanced my interpersonal skills, which are vital when I'm working within a close team of colleagues and external contacts.

My degree honed my communication skills and I often have to translate technical information into more public-friendly formats. Being able to adapt my writing to different audiences and media is hugely important to what I do.

What are your main work activities?

My current role is very broad. I manage various social media channels, writing content and engaging with our supporters online. I also write and maintain content for our website. In addition, I coordinate the design and production of Bipolar UK's publications and their magazine, which are essential resources for our service users.

I work really closely with all the teams, helping to share information and messages about our range of services. For example, I work with our fundraising team to promote our events and campaigns to encourage people to support the charity.

I'm also developing a new volunteering scheme so that supporters can get more involved in our work, either through the media or volunteering opportunities. This reflects the engagement side of my role.

I really like being able to work on different projects and with different services at the same time, ensuring no two days are ever the same.

What do you enjoy about your job?

Seeing the positive impact the charity has on people's lives. It motivates my work and makes it a really rewarding place to be.

As I work for a small organisation, I also get a great overview of all the work the charity does and I work closely with a varied group of passionate people.

What are the most challenging aspects?

I am the person solely responsible for communications and this means I deal with much of the work covering communications, marketing and coordinating media relations for all teams.

My job can become very busy with competing deadlines and projects. However, I really enjoy the varied nature of my role and all the projects I get to be involved in.

Where do you hope to be in five years?

I hope to stay within the charity sector, developing my digital communications and design skills.

Any words of advice for someone who wants to get into this job?

I always knew I wanted to work in the non-profit/charity sector and I was involved in volunteering and campaigning throughout my time at university. Getting this experience is invaluable for getting a role within the charity sector.

Having a passion for working within the charity sector is also vital - be honest about why you want to work for the charity and be passionate about a charity's aims.

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