Thinking of working for Your Back Yard? Here’s insights from a year-long uni placement

Published by Sydney O'Connor on

It’s May 2020. You’re a second year business undergraduate being spoon fed corporate opportunities by your lecturers. The words ‘assessment center’, ‘formal dress’ and ‘breakfast meeting’ put your hairs on end.

That was me, just over a year ago, until I stumbled across the post by Your Back Yard on the Leeds University careers page. The ‘Social Researcher’ role detailed the responsibilities as community engagement, supporting health and wellbeing projects and undertaking research into community facilities, finally, I thought, a role with more purpose than selling shampoo. At the time I had no bloody idea what a ‘community regeneration specialist’ was, but you best believe I was going to find out.

This role has had me doing everything from: directing exercise videos; speaking at Leeds City Council digital inclusion events; managing marketing campaigns; training older adults on tablet use and starting a men’s Film and TV club. The great thing about working for a smaller organization like Your Back Yard is how much variety, responsibility and autonomy can be found, whilst having a fantastic leader, Tony, there for support and advice. I have undertaken challenges, like implementing online exercise to the organization, that I had no idea how to do going into it. If you want to showcase and build on your initiative and are willing to learn on the job, I would highly recommend putting in an application. Working for Your Back Yard is the same as most things- you get in what you put out.

Even more than the work it’s self, the vast amount of cracking people that you work with on the daily has made the past year. The board members, instructors and coaches, all the passionate people on the Leed’s Digital Working Group, the volunteers. And even more than that, the people who we work with directly, like the regulars on the online classes, the men on the Film and TV club, and of course, the Bramley Walking Wanderers. Before starting at Your Back Yard I spent most of my time dithering in the ‘university bubble’. Now, I cannot see a future without volunteering for community projects, or working within the third sector, because (please excuse the soppiness for the sake of honesty) nothing has brought more joy to this year than seeing your time was spent making someone else’s day better, even if only slightly. For anyone who hasn’t tried community focused work or volunteering yet, I recommend you do so. And it goes without saying, but I recommend starting with Your Back Yard.

Even if you think the third sector isn’t for you, if you’re motivated, confident and want to make a difference in the community I highly recommend a placement year at Your Back Yard. The broad variety of projects, coupled with the high responsibility of working in a small team, gives you a well-rounded and impressive spot on your CV, you’ll develop skills which will be transferable to many careers. Communication, writing skills, presentation and people skills are key, no matter what you’re doing. But more than a well rounded CV, the past 11 months working for Your Back Yard has made me a more well rounded person, more sociable, more confident, more passionate and more curious.

Tl;dr

Working with Tony and the team has been an absolute pleasure. If you’re thinking of applying for a role with Your Back Yard, I say go for it!

Warmest wishes,

Sydney

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