Case study

Coordinator — Micaela Tuckwell

Micaela enjoys building relationships with other local voluntary sector organisations. Find out if a career in the charity sector would suit you…

How did you get your job?

It was the steps I took before graduation that made a difference as I began my role as coordinator of Jacari in the summer that I graduated from university.

Jacari is an Oxford-based children's education charity that provides free home-tutoring for local children who are struggling at school because of language barriers. All of Jacari's volunteers are university students who are matched up with a child and then spend an hour a week helping to build their child's confidence in English.

While doing my undergraduate degree at Oxford Brookes University I spent two years volunteering with Jacari, and in my final year I was also the president of the charity's student committee.

One of the benefits of working for such a small charity is that I have been able to work with trustees to shape the coordinator role

How relevant is your degree to your job?

The communication skills learnt from my English degree were particularly useful on the day of the interview as candidates were asked to prepare and perform a presentation, as if to a group of students, encouraging them to become volunteers. I also had to write a letter to a school teacher answering a tricky query.

What are your main work activities?

Working for a small charity with one employee means that each day looks very different as volunteer management, book-keeping, fundraising, reporting to the trustees and liaising with schools and parents all falls within my job description.

A day could involve a morning of answering queries from students interested in volunteering and a meeting with a school teacher at a local school, followed by chairing a meeting of the student committee in the afternoon and writing a grant application to a trust fund.

How has your role developed?

One of the benefits of working for such a small charity is that I have been able to work with the charity's trustees to shape the coordinator role, as challenges and opportunities arise. For example, I have restructured how projects that occur alongside our core activity of tutoring children are run.

My ambition is to continue working in the not-for-profit sector and in particular, to further develop my volunteer management skills.

What do you enjoy about your job?

I particularly enjoy building relationships with other local voluntary sector organisations, social enterprises and schools. By establishing these relationships I am able to draw on the opportunities and knowledge gained and to better manage the charity for the benefit of its volunteers and beneficiaries.

Charities exist out of a need in a community, no matter how big or small that community is, and so therefore an important (and exciting) part of working in the not-for-profit sector is continuing to learn about how your charity fits into the community that you serve.

What are the most challenging parts of your job?

The sheer breadth of the role. There are so many interesting aspects to the role, such as fundraising; volunteer recruitment; training and management; school/beneficiary liaison; reporting to trustees; bookkeeping; monitoring and evaluation.

The variety of the job means there is a lot to learn and it does require considerable energy and innovation. Having such variety however, means I have developed a wide range of skills, and gained a good insight into the charity sector.

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

If you're still at university, get involved with a student society and start developing skills. Identify a cause that you care about and get in touch with a local group (student or other) that supports that cause.

If they don't have a voluntary opportunity that is right for you, think about the skills you do have (publicity through social media, book-keeping, fundraising etc.) to see whether you can help them in any other way.

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