Julianne Flynn

The final year of university can be a nerve-racking time. Not only are you putting in relentless hours in the library, but you’re also faced with the daunting question – ‘what’s next?’.

As all my friends applied for masters, made exciting travel plans or undertook unpaid internships, I silently decided to take a risk, follow my instinct and look for paid employment in the not-for-profit sector.

Above all else, I wanted to find a job with a sense of purpose – to go into work each day and feel like you’re working towards the common goal of making our society a fairer place.

Not asking for much, right?

Just as I began to question my lofty ambitions, I came across the For Purpose Graduate Programme on gradireland and read about the role of ‘Donor Development and Support Services Assistant’ in ActionAid Ireland and knew it would be an ideal fit.

I graduated in Sociology and Social Policy from Trinity College Dublin in December 2018 and began my role in ActionAid just three days later.

This wouldn’t have been possible without the For Purpose Graduate programme.

It provides relatively inexperienced graduates with the invaluable opportunity to ‘get your foot in the door’ within a highly competitive sector. However, it is so much more than that.

I have been given the opportunity to make a real and substantial impact. My role in ActionAid Ireland – an international humanitarian organisation – is multifaceted and diverse. I play a key role in the fundraising team. This has given me an insight into various areas, from data analytics to copy writing. I also help manage ActionAid’s tax campaign to maximise tax-back on donations. This campaign is projected to bring in an annual income of €350,000 for ActionAid. It is deeply rewarding to be part of a team that helps fund ActionAid’s vital work in areas like sustainable development, education and preventing FGM.

Another aspect of my role is assisting the CEO in governance, board reporting, and human resources. Here, I have an input in the day-to-day management of a charity.

Despite the steep learning curve, I always felt supported. While this may be a testament to my colleagues, it is also a result of the sense of community fostered by the For Purpose Graduate Programme. Each graduate is assigned a mentor with years of experience. This has proved a great source of advice and encouragement. Likewise, For Purpose organise roundtable discussions where you get to learn about the fascinating work carried out across the sector. Here, you also get to network with your For Purpose peers.

I deeply believe that a job should be more than merely a means to an end. The For Purpose Graduate Programme is a brilliant opportunity to do something you believe in while also growing professionally. If you’re a graduate who is eager to make a difference and asking yourself ‘what’s next?’, the For Purpose Graduate Programme may well provide the answer.