How I found my way from microbiology to housing – by Housing Officer, Rachael.
After working for Care Housing Association (Care) for 2 years, I have reflected on how I found myself here and why I plan to stay.
Having always done well at school, social sector jobs weren’t really on my radar growing up as teachers only seemed keen to discuss routes to Oxbridge or medicine. Studying life sciences and living abroad to work in a research lab seemed like typical choices for me. Travelling and volunteering in South America after university is where I realised I’d rather work with, and for, people in some capacity than in a corporate or academic setting. It was 2 or 3 years after this before I considered social housing as a career.
I completed a graduate scheme for the charity sector, where my 12-month placement was as a deputy manager in a children’s home. The young people we supported had autism and profound learning disabilities so this role was a new (and incredibly rewarding) challenge for me, though managing the over-worked team of support staff alongside juggling the paperwork felt like an impossible task at the time! Other aspects of the scheme educated me about broader areas of the non-profit sector, and the undeniable positivity of the housing professionals I met got my attention.
I gained some experience working for a retirement housing provider, then when I was ready for a new challenge I found the housing officer vacancy at Care and took the job, slightly wary that I’d be just the third member of staff; I wasn’t sure how I’d find working in such a small team.
Any fears were quickly quashed by the welcoming attitude, variety in the role, clear capability of my colleagues and ingrained values that lined up with my own. I hoped that as the organisation grew, I could learn and grow with it, and I’m pleased to say that has been the case. I feel motivated to do my job well for the benefit of our supported tenants, and for Care and our staff team. As the team expands I’m glad to be part of the warm welcome to new members, to demonstrate the values and (hopefully) the competence!