Mon 30 / 04 / 18
A Year After Leaving University: How Far Have I Come?
Rachel Stone, Catalyst Team member, shares her insights on joining a unique graduate scheme and her work with Brighton Chamber, all in a year after leaving university.
Life is so busy that it’s hard to find time to look back and reflect on the progress we’ve made. What feels easy today was once a struggle a year ago, and before you know it, you’re doing things you once thought were unimaginable. This time last year I was writing my dissertation, and there were times when I thought I’d never finish it (name one uni student who didn’t think that at least once in their academic career). Not only did I manage to complete my dissertation and graduate, I’m now nearing the end of my time working on a unique graduate scheme – The Catalyst Team.
The Catalyst Team is made up of 10 Sussex University graduates and placement students who work with entrepreneurs on a flexible, project basis. All coming from different backgrounds and disciplines, we help business owners with everything from data handling to market research, content creation to design work, social media marketing to analytics, and much more. We free up time so the entrepreneur can get back to running their company. Not only does this benefit them, but it gives the team a diverse experience working within a range of fields so that when we’ve completed our year we can apply for jobs knowing we’ve got the skills needed to progress further. To give you an idea of the scope, I’ve worked with a Fintech business, a gay wedding venue directory, a local farm shop, Brighton Chamber – of course! - and loads more.
I assisted Brighton Chamber with the Living Wage Project at the start of 2018. The Brighton & Hove Living Wage campaign, led by Brighton Chamber, encourages local businesses to pay their staff £8.75 per hour, to allow Brighton workers to not just survive, but to live. Together with Josh Cadman, we went out and spoke to business owners – via email, on the phone and face-to-face - to find out if they were able to pay their staff wage, and if not, what was preventing them. The project lasted several weeks, and together we spoke to over 100 businesses and got 24 new sign-ups to the scheme. We also got some real, meaningful insights into why business owners struggle to pay the Living Wage, which helps form a larger picture of the economic climate in this quirky seaside town. This was a great result for the Chamber, but also for Josh and I who gained experience in market research and improved our confidence skills. Going and speaking to 100 businesses seemed like a daunting task at first, but once we got started (and remembered that the Brighton population is generally lovely) we thoroughly enjoyed it.
The Catalyst Team also supported the Chamber at Brighton summit 2017, an annual event that’s become iconic within the business community. 2017’s theme was ‘embracing the unknown’, and there was networking, guest speakers and interactive activities all surrounding this theme. “All staff were randomly assigned an unknown activity that we had to do for an hour,” recalls Sianna MacLean, Catalyst Team member who worked at the summit. “I had to run a high-energy dance class – not your usual day at the office! – which was so much fun. Other people from the team practised mindfulness, tasted coffee, and watched old black and white films. It was an amazing day and I feel very fortunate to have taken part – thanks Brighton chamber!”
My work for Brighton Chamber didn’t end with the Living Wage Project. In March and April, I went back to their gorgeous Preston Park office and worked on a data management project. It was a great opportunity to meet the amazing team and find out the huge number of companies who are part of the Brighton Chamber community, as well as to learn some new skills and utilise my newly-founded project management capabilities. A year ago, I never would have dreamed I’d be able to do half the things I’ve done this year. Looking back and reflecting, it’s positive to see how much I’ve matured and the challenges I’ve overcome.
I’d like to say a huge thank you to Brighton Chamber on behalf of the Catalyst team for letting us assist on some important projects over this last year. Everyone on the team who’s had the pleasure of working with the Chamber has commented on the fantastic work that they do, and I hope Catalyst can continue working together in the future.
If you’re a member of Brighton chamber and are interested in hiring one (or more) of the Catalyst team to help you with a project, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you to Rachel Stone, Catalyst Team Member for writing this blog.
The Chamber has benefited enormously from the support of the Catalyst team over the last year and we’ve thoroughly enjoyed working with Rachel and the team on various projects. Good luck to the team with whatever comes next!
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