Cohort 8 – Josh Millar
Name: Josh Millar
Current job title: Housing Officer
Internship/Placement role: Agile Working Project Officer & Experienced Professional Route (EPR)
Where are you based: Edinburgh, Scotland
I’m originally from Scarborough, North Yorkshire, but whilst I was an undergraduate I lived and studied in Dundee, Scotland. Once I graduated I decided to move back home into my parents in order to save some money and I began looking for graduate work. It was then that I first saw an advert for the GEM programme. Prior to this my experience of social housing had been from a very ‘bottom up’ perspective. I had friends and relatives who lived, or had lived, in social housing and I knew for one family member the offer of secure housing had been a lifeline in time of crisis.
However, it wasn’t until I joined the sector that I began to comprehend the wide range of distinct roles which sit within the social housing umbrella. Finance, property, estate management, HR and IT are just a few of the divisions which must work in tandem to provide effective tenancies. The GEM programme offered the opportunity for graduates to forge a successful career in their chosen profession, regardless of their university discipline.
I did plenty of preparation before the interview day because it was clear from the offset that the programme held high expectations of its cohorts. Graduates are selected on their ambition, competence and for exerting good moral values. Thankfully I was successful and secured a placement with Yorkshire Coast Homes working on company wide mobile working solutions project. This was my first professional job and provided me with invaluable experience working across departments, building an in-depth understanding of how they interacted on a day to day basis. The support I received from the programme undoubtedly helped me to achieve my goals and it was also good to see how the GEM curriculum and CIH coursework linked in with my role.
What do you enjoy about your current role?
Since becoming a GEM alumnus and relocating back to Scotland I’ve worked for two local authorities as a generic housing officer. I really like that the work varies and no two days are ever the same. I spend a lot of time out of the office mobile working which is something I enjoy. The flexibility of managing my own time is also good.
The GEM Programme
I am currently enrolled in a pilot scheme for GEM alumni to undergo the ‘experienced professional route’ to chartered membership with the CIH, which is usually only attainable after several years in the sector at an influential level. My employer has been very supportive of my decision to apply for chartered membership. This is an awesome opportunity and something I have found beneficial to my practice.
What advice do you have for anyone looking to apply?
I would recommend the GEM programme to anyone who is interested in building a career in the social housing sector because it really gives you an edge when it comes to job hunting, builds a great base of knowledge for your professional career and can open doors.
Applicants must be ready to embrace the challenge and be ready to commit their own time. Balancing work and personal life alongside the coursework can be especially difficult. Whilst it is demanding it’s also very rewarding and if you’re willing to put the effort in then the programme can really bolster your credentials. The support doesn’t have to stop once you progress into your full-time role and there are plenty of opportunities to continue to develop and give back.
The skills you learn throughout the course, the experiences whilst on placement and the other unique opportunities involved in the programme leave you with an arsenal of knowledge at your disposal.