Cohort 7 – Marketing Assistant
Name: Grace Kelly
Current job title: Marketing Assistant
Internship/Placement role: Assistant Development officer
Degree: Social Policy and Sociology
Where are you based: London
I finished my degree in Social Policy and Sociology in 2013 in Leeds and moved back home for the summer. I ended up getting a job firstly in retail, then with the local council but I knew it wasn’t what I wanted to do. I wanted to move away from home and get out into the world!
I came across the GEM programme by chance when googling graduate careers; I had always been interested in housing having done several modules on homelessness and the lack of support out there for people in social housing at university and I knew it was something I would love pursue more.
I saw the job advertised at Raven housing Trust who are based in Redhill and loved the sound of it. I applied not really expecting much and was amazed when I got an interview! I travelled down to Surrey for the interview and really like the people who I met. To my surprised I was offered the job and within 6 weeks I had moved to London!
I loved my time at Raven and I really enjoyed getting to know the inners workings of how a Housing Association operates. I was lucky that everyone at Raven was so friendly and I was able to shadow every department in the organisation; i knew I had made the right choice and I wanted a career in housing. I saw how every department operating and how we all fitted together to make one great organisation; it’s really important to understand how everyone else’s job impacts yours and what challenges you all face.
I started off at Raven working in development; helping to appraise new schemes, looking at new land opportunities and keeping track of new developments on site. I loved the variety of the job and the skills I learnt during my time there were invaluable. After my year placement I knew I wanted to stay working in housing; particularly for a HA so applied for a job at L&Q, one of the biggest HA’s in the country, 2 years later I still work here!
The GEM Programme
One of the best opportunities offered to me on the GEM programme was the opportunity to visit Whitehall and Westminster; it was such a wonderful opportunity, one that I’m sure I won’t get again! It was so interesting to be able to actually talk one on one with MP’s about what their view of housing was in the country, how did they think we were going to tackle the housing crisis and why did they think we were failing so much at building new homes?
I can’t stress how important it is to engage with the policies and political thinking around housing; you will see how this impacts your day to day job and infiltrates every area of a HA.
The day certainly made me go away and look further into housing policy and try and understand why this country has fallen so far behind in its house building target.
I found it so eye opening and it further fueled my desire to work in housing and try and make a difference where I can.
What do you enjoy about your current role?
I currently work in Marketing and I really enjoy it. It is our job to drive people to our websites and marketing suites in order to sell homes which then in turn finances the rest of the business!
We help to create bespoke brands for our outright sale schemes; we then create the brochure, help to design the website, work with interior designers to help design new show homes and make sure we create a fulfilling customer journey for anyone wishing to buy with L&Q.
It is different to where I originally started at Raven but the skills I learnt there really help me in my current role; I still have to work with floor plans and go on building sites! So I am really grateful to the knowledge I gained working in development.
What advice do you have for anyone looking to apply?
My advice would be firstly, just do it! You won’t regret the opportunities offered to you by the GEM programme; not just the extra qualifications but the networking, the friends you’ll make and the experiences you get. I still keep in touch with several people from my cohort and it’s nice to have that support and friendship 3 years later.
Make sure you research the placement you are applying for and check it would be an area of housing you actually find interesting. It makes it much easier to enjoy your placement if you are working in an area that genuinely interests you and you can get behind!