In 2013, I was voted onto the Board of Trustees for Potential Plus UK, after responding to a request for interested individuals to apply. I sat on the Board for three years, whilst I was in sixth form and university, until my job commitments meant that I could no longer dedicate the required amount of time to it.
Overall, I found my time on the Board one of the most rewarding things I have done. However, something I have come to realise was the profound impact it has had on my applications for universities and job and future career prospects. Below I will describe the different ways in which being a trustee set me up for success:
University Applications. When applying for universities it is becoming increasingly hard to set yourself apart from your peers. Nowadays excellent grades are sometimes not enough to ensure that you get that coveted spot in your preferred university. It was for this reason that when I applied to read Classics at the University of Exeter I was encouraged to ‘do extracurricular stuff’ to ‘fill out’ my CV. At the time my voluntary work with the charity was exactly that, voluntary. However, at every interview I found that my position as a board member (instead of, for example, a Saturday job) placed me above my peers as it showed more commitment and understanding than other volunteering opportunities.
Job Applications. There was a rigorous selection process for the job I applied for. This consisted of a written application and then two assessment centres. Arriving, quite nervously, at my final assessment centre the last hurdle I was faced with was a leadership interview. As soon as I sat down, I began my pre-prepared speech “I consider my leadership ability to be one of my…” before I was cut off by the interviewer. “I can see that you’ve already been in an important leadership role, how on earth did you manage to become a trustee at the age of eighteen?” he asked, bemused. After this, my interview was plain sailing and I got the job. Seeing the pale faces of those who entered the room before me I believe that my work with Potential Plus UK put me in a much better place than my peers.
Career Progression. Having been successful in my job application I have found that my role as a trustee introduced me to a world of management and strategic planning at a much younger age than the average. I was, and still am to a certain extent, often frustrated by being judged on my age not my ability (this is a feeling I’m sure is not unique to me in the charity). Therefore, my ability to see a strategic picture and work at a high level within an organisation showed that I had more to offer than my age may suggest. Potential Plus UK’s acceptance of me onto their board was a terrific way to sit among experts in their fields and prove the credentials of the charity – that an individual should be judged on their potential, not their age.
Rewarding Work with Good People. Lastly, but definitely not least, the most enduring part of my time on the board was the rewarding nature of the job. Having a part in the management and running of the charity was incredibly rewarding and is something I look back on with pride. Moreover, I still consider those who I worked with friends; they listened to my suggestions with patience and helped me improve my self-confidence. I have had few experiences working with better or more selfless people.
Potential Plus UK would love to hear from people aged 18 or over who would be interested in becoming one of our trustees. For more information contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org