From uncertain beginnings to impactful leaps

Read Pia’s reflections on her first year at Care City and see how her “indecisive frog” phase led her to valuable insights about her career!

A while ago, my colleagues and I wrote about our – very different – career paths and how we were all brought together by Care City’s mission to support people living happier and healthier lives.

This month I am entering my second year as Project Lead at Care City and am (still!) feeling super happy to be here. My one year anniversary feels like a great opportunity to reflect on my reasons for starting in this role, my achievements and challenges over the last year and whether working at Care City is at all what I had imagined.

When I wrote my application for this position, I felt pretty strongly about wanting to find a role which would allow me to put my skill set to good use and to make a meaningful impact. With neither experience of having worked in the non-profit sector or the health and care sector before, I wasn’t all too confident in my chances of being considered for the job but I believe that honesty, my genuine interest to learn and a little bit of luck played a role… and here I am!

I immediately connected with the way Care City works in and with local communities and I feel really proud to have already contributed to a variety of impactful projects in my first year at Care City. This includes projects about:

As I’m sure many people would agree, a workplace isn’t even half as great if it wasn’t for the brilliant people that create the conditions to achieve good work together. The Care City Team is made up of people from different backgrounds, covering a broad range of talents and expertise, but above all I think that they are an incredibly kind and compassionate bunch. 

We recently started creating a “Personal User Guide” (PUG), which is a template with prompts to reflect on our working styles, communication preferences, strengths, weaknesses and what we need to thrive. We try to revisit our guides regularly in conversation with colleagues, allowing us to get to know each other on a different level and to reduce the risk of misunderstanding others who might have an opposing working style. I have found this exercise both empowering and reassuring.

What I love about a small organisation like Care City, is that new ideas – such as the Personal User Guides – are easily implemented and tested, without having to jump through many hoops as often is the case in big corporations. As a result I have felt very inspired and encouraged to bring my creative side to work and make suggestions to shape or improve processes. Earlier this year, for example, I developed a fun campaign for International Women’s Day to celebrate each other’s skills and generally applaud the great women in our team.

Care City has also given me the opportunity to grow and develop new skills such as doing a Level I and Level II British Sign Language Course. Learning Sign Language has not only been an extremely fun experience but it also helps me see our work with a more inclusive lens.

My biggest development opportunity, however, has been to learn about a sector that I was entirely unfamiliar with when I first started and I am so grateful that Care City gave me a chance to do so. I can’t wait to pass on this generosity to other people along the way because if it wasn’t for being given chances despite a lack of industry-specific knowledge or expected qualifications, we would all be trapped in one particular area of expertise for the entirety of our careers.

As part of my induction I was equipped with a long list of articles and other resources through which I slowly learned about how funding in the NHS works, which different entities make up our national health and care system and who is involved in decision making. In addition to that, listening to conversations of industry experts, such as on the Kings Fund and The Health Foundation podcasts became one of my favourite ways of broadening my knowledge on health and care.

Even better than absorbing information through podcasts, though, is working alongside people and organisations in the industry and learning from their first hand experiences!

I can now say that grasping an entire sector from scratch has not felt all that easy. Trying to understand the interconnectedness of the various issues we are facing, definitely feels like a challenge and I would advise people who are trying to do the same, to come equipped with plenty of patience and to be comfortable with a state of not knowing. 

At the beginning of my career, I didn’t yet have a particular sense of direction and as a result, I ended up hopping between different industries and work environments for a few years – a bit like an indecisive frog not quite sure yet which water lily it wants to settle on. What was great about this process, though, was that it gave me plenty of opportunity to learn about myself, my passions and my superpowers and it strengthened my ability to seek out the environments that I’d be most likely to thrive in. 

By the time I applied at Care City, I had a pretty clear idea of what I wanted and needed and felt like it ticked a whole lot of my boxes. I am very happy that I still feel the same a year later and am excited about the projects, people and learning opportunities that await me in my second year at Care City.

You can learn a little more about Pia here. But if you like what you see, don’t try to hire her…she’s ours!

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