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Emily Franklin, City Year Birmingham, 2011-12

Volunteer mentor in uniform

When I finished university I had absolutely no idea what to do with myself. I considered teaching (as a Geography graduate that’s what many people think you should do), I liked the idea of working in the third sector and had absolutely no experience of working with corporate organisations. City Year ticked all of those boxes for me.

The biggest highlight of the experience was moving to Birmingham with City Year as a Team Leader in my second year and seeing the model work in a different city with different children. Seeing young people grow is such an amazing thing to be a part of; it’s incredibly rewarding and makes you very proud. I also love how City Year gives its corps members such a variety of experiences and allows you to explore and make a better informed decision of where you want to go with your life.

I think the biggest skill I cultivated whilst at City Year was that of resilience. It’s a tough experience but definitely worth it. Throughout my two years I surprised myself with how much I learnt and feel I am a better individual because of it. It taught me professional skills and also made me a more determined person and gave me the confidence to believe in myself.

After finishing my City Year I moved on to work for charity broker The East London Business Alliance (ELBA). I work with volunteers from corporate organisations to place them with community groups and charities across east London which may require some professional support and time. This could be anything from computer skills workshops, to painting a community centre to creating a school allotment.

I still keep in contact with many friends from my peer group and from both teams I worked with in London and Birmingham. Working together in schools can be tough, but you are each other’s’ support network and become very close through shared experience.

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