Sharon Hughes For Purpose Tuesdays

For Purpose Tuesdays with Sharon Hughes

Last week, we had a fantastic For Purpose Tuesday session with Sharon Hughes. Sharon is the Leadership Academy Manager at The Wheel, bringing leaders from Irish charities, community organisations and social enterprises together to learn and inspire each other.  

Sharon has substantial experience within education. Her experience includes lecturing at Eden College at the beginning of her career, to joining TU Dublin for over 17 years as a Student Support Advisor, Development Manager, Events Manager and Chief Executive Officer of TU Dublin’s Student Union. We were delighted to invite Sharon in to chat to our graduates, the future leaders of the nonprofit sector, about leadership development. 


Leadership Academy

The Leadership Academy provides opportunities to have conversations about the key leadership challenges and to find relevant, cutting-edge leadership development opportunities, networking, training, information and support. The Leadership Academy provides key resources such as Leadership Schools, Leadership Library and Leadership Blog. These 3 elements enable skills reflection, provide support for your development and expert advice within the sector. 


For Purpose Tuesdays Session with Sharon

Sharon engaged with our graduates by asking the challenges of entering the sector as a graduate and how to encourage young people to work in the nonprofit sector. As previously noted in, ‘Graduate Careers: 5 Reasons to work in a nonprofit’, graduates entering the nonprofit sector are not usually monetarily motivated. The opportunity to work for a mission-led organisation, make a difference, and growth opportunities within the sector are more motivating factors.  

Despite this, our graduates discussed other non-monetary aspects graduates could be offered to attract them to the sector. Tangible elements such as: paid study leave, managing expectations as a graduate, consistent mentoring opportunities, open communication and feedback loop, continuous personal development. 

Sharon placed our graduates into small breakout groups to discuss entering the nonprofit sector. She asked some of the following questions:


What are the challenges our graduates see when entering the nonprofit sector?

  • Low salaries
  • Job stability
  • Unclear expectations in your role
  • Lack of constructive feedback due to overstretched managers
  • Gaining a seat at the table
  • Gap between experienced staff and new graduates due to Covid
  • Lack of involvement due to “lack of experience” 


Ideas for improving graduates’ experience in nonprofit sector

  1. Offering KPIs  
  1. More intergenerational learning  
  1. Flexible working  
  1. Clearer paths for progression 
  1. Seeing the impact of your work 
  1. More networking opportunities  
  1. More CPD 
  1. Non-paid benefits – statutory e.g. bike to work scheme 


Contact Us

This was a fantastic opportunity for our graduates to speak openly about their experience in the nonprofit sector. It provided a discussion around expectations as graduates and how organisations can aid their career progression. For more information on For Purpose Tuesdays, or our graduate programme, visit our website or contact Rhonda Wynne.