At Catalyst, we’re always looking for new and innovative ways to help individuals gain work experience and develop their skills. One of the ways we do this is by offering work placements with different teams across the business.

Our Communities team developed their community connector programme using funding from the government’s Kickstart scheme. The programme’s purpose was to help young people in the neighbourhoods and communities we work in to gain practical skills and experience of working in a housing association.

Megan started her time at Catalyst as a community connector. She has shared her thoughts on why work placements are so beneficial to young people and how it’s helped her get on the right career path.

Hi Megan, Tell us a little about yourself

I grew up in Birmingham and moved to London three years ago to study psychology at university. I started working for Catalyst on a six-month work placement as a Community Connector, and I now work as a Communities Assistant for the Advice and Wellbeing team.

What interested in working for the Communities team?

I’ve always been interested in people’s mental health and wellbeing. After finishing university, I was looking for a job and contacted my local Jobcentre Plus regarding work opportunities. My work coach introduced me to the Kickstart Scheme, a government employment scheme for people aged 16-25 who want to gain employment and practical work experience.

I attended a government jobs fair where I met some fantastic Catalyst colleagues who explained the Community Connectors role and helped me arrange an interview.

Why did you decide to apply?

I was looking for a people-focused role that focused on supporting the wellbeing of others. Working within the Communities team matched this perfectly, with their focus on developing inclusive and accessible community projects within Catalyst neighbourhoods.

I knew Catalyst would be an ideal work environment for me as I am motivated by making a difference and doing meaningful work.

 

Work placements are a great way to gain work experience and an understanding of an industry. Everyone at Catalyst is welcoming and supportive, and they want you to do well. '

How did joining the Communities team as a Community Connector benefit you?

I had finished university and was unsure what the future would look like for me. I wanted a job in which I could help others, but I wasn’t sure which industry would suit me best.

Becoming a Community Connector provided paid work experience, which has given me a deeper understanding of the role housing associations play in supporting individuals and building communities.

It also provided me with the opportunity to apply for and gain a permanent position as a Communities Assistant within the Communities team.

What’s your outlook for the future now?

I’m incredibly passionate about community work. I thoroughly enjoy being part of the Communities team, and I’m excited about being part of the Peabody team when we become one organisation.

I love working with such genuine, compassionate and inspiring colleagues who are all motivated by helping others and making a positive difference.

What achievement are you most proud of during your time as a Community Connector?

As part of the Community Connectors programme, we had to pitch three potential community project ideas to a group of Catalyst colleagues. I’m proud to say they believed I had the capacity and ability to run all three of my project ideas instead of just one as initially planned, which allowed us to help a wider variety of customers.

Would you recommend applying for similar work placements such as the Community Connectors programme to others?

Definitely – work placements are a great way to gain work experience and an understanding of an industry.

Everyone at Catalyst is welcoming and supportive, and they want you to do well. It is a great working environment to be a part of. Thank you to everyone who helped make the programme happen and supported us all through the process. It’s really helped provide young people with a fantastic opportunity to learn new skills and develop personally and professionally.

How our Advice and Wellbeing team can help you

If you’re a student or you’ve left school, college or university and you’re not sure of what to do next – get in touch with our Advice and Wellbeing team.

Our team of specialists can help you find suitable work placements, training and employment as well as support you with writing a professional CV, cover letters, job searches and more. Find out more and get in touch with the team today.