In recent weeks, we’ve had an enthusiastic volunteer join the virtual Pennies HQ straight from university. Toby Allen, a Football Business and Marketing graduate jumped in the deep end and chose Pennies to gain some valuable experience. Take a few minutes to hear from Toby himself and learn the challenges COVID-19 has had on those starting out in their career.

COVID-19 has provided many challenges for everyone, my challenge as a graduate has been finding a job in a shattered job market.

In the summer of 2020, I was delighted to graduate from UCFB Wembley with a 2:1 degree in BA Hons Football Business and Marketing. I spent a large amount of my final year of university looking forward to finishing education and getting stuck into the working world. I had no idea at that time how difficult it would be to achieve this because COVID was something you saw happening in China and I never dreamt that we would end up locked down for weeks on end.

After spending the summer months working my old summer job that had supported me through education and, applying for the odd job here and there in my free time. September then arrived and I was forced to mind-numbingly sit and apply for any job I saw online, with very little hope of ever hearing anything back as the job market had become so competitive. I continued this routine for a couple of months until my uncle, who is a charity trustee, suggested volunteering.

After being advised by my uncle, I started my volunteering journey with Pennies. From the start everyone was very friendly and keen to have me as part of the team, people would take time out of their days to make sure I was kept in the loop, and that I understood different phrases and jargon that were thrown around during meetings and discussions.

Pennies donation opportunity

The main thing missing from my CV was practical work experience and volunteering with Pennies provided me with this. It gave me an insight into the working world and taught me valuable skills that I have been able to talk about in interviews.  Personal touches such as my own Pennies email address and being included in weekly team meetings made me feel valued and appreciated.  Projects and tasks that I was involved in allowed me to put the theory of University into practice.

I would recommend volunteering with Pennies to anyone in a similar position or someone looking to gain experience in the fintech/charity sector.  Volunteering not only provided me with a feeling of accomplishment and pride but also gave me experience and knowledge.

After a month or so of volunteering I managed to secure multiple job interviews and these lasted twice the amount of time they would have pre-volunteering. This was because I had so much more to talk about, and I had confidence in my abilities and skills. All of this resulted in two job offers, one of which was with my local air ambulance charity and after having such a brilliant experience of volunteering in the charity sector, this was the offer I accepted.

Air Ambulance checking supplies


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