'Meet a...' is Groundwork Youth Hub's new careers series aiming to highlight the people behind the job titles and introduce you to a range of roles inside and outside of Groundwork. Meet our staff, partners, friends, and supporters and find out their journey to where they are now. We hope these interviews inspire you!
Our PR Officer, Stacey talked to Groundwork Senior Programmes Assistant, Joe to get know more about his role – and his love of plants!
SA/Gwk Youth: Hi Joe! So, what is your job and what does it involve?
JO: I’m Senior Programmes Assistant for the Contracts Team. This involves assisting on the national contracts we are running. We do a lot of employment projects nationally such as our youth employment programme, Progress as well as our energy efficiency work with our Green Doctors. There is also the grant administration side through our Community Rights programme that ultimately empowers local communities to improve their local area.
SA/Gwk Youth: Sounds like you have a very varied role! Do you have a typical working day?
JO: No – which is good! I’m often out and about and meeting people which is something I like. I enjoy the variety of working on all the different programmes.
SA/Gwk Youth: How long have you worked at Groundwork?
JO: I worked for Groundwork UK for two years, but I’ve been working for Groundwork as a Federation for seven years in total. I worked for Groundwork South as a Green Doctor for four years and at Groundwork London for about a year, also working on the Green Doctor scheme.
SA/Gwk Youth: Sounds interesting! How did you get involved with working as a Green Doctor?
JO: I wasn’t specifically looking for that job – I was looking for any role in the environment sector so I spread my net quite wide and applied for a lot of different jobs. I then got a call from Groundwork South to say I was successful I moved my whole life from Birmingham to Brighton in two weeks!
SA/Gwk Youth: Bet it was nice to live by the sea! What do you enjoy most about working at Groundwork?
JO: I like the people here – even though that might seem like a cheesy answer! I enjoy the variety of areas that we work on and have the opportunity to get involved in.
SA/Gwk Youth: Have you ever completed a work experience placement?
JO: I worked for an organisation called the International Union for the Conservation of Nature on a project called the ‘Red List’ where they study plants and animals and find out how endangered they are. I was doing GIS mapping for them, looking at plants mainly, and seeing where they have been spotted in Europe that are linked to food that we eat.
SA/Gwk Youth: Ah! Do you have a favourite plant?
JO: I like anything that will give me fruit so anything I can eat! And foxgloves – because I like the idea of foxes wearing little gloves…
SA/Gwk Youth: As do we! Did you go to University and if so, what did you study?
JO: I studied Biology and then I did a Masters in Plant Conservation. I loved Biology at A Level and I knew I wanted to go to university so I wanted to do something I would enjoy. I did consider studying statistics but I’m glad I didn’t now!
SA/Gwk Youth: What was your first ever job?
JO: I used to collect money for a window cleaner and I worked at a garden centre in their Christmas department which was lovely. That was a seasonal role when Santa would decide to show up.
SA/Gwk Youth: Did you have a favourite subject at school?
JO: Biology and sciences – I like to know why things are what they are and how they work. I’m also very good with a Bunsen burner!
SA/Gwk Youth: What did you want to be when you were growing up?
JO: I wanted to be famous in a rock band – I still hold that dream!
SA/Gwk Youth: Love it! If you could swap roles with anyone in Groundwork for one week who would it be?
JO: It would be good to swap with Graham [our CEO] and be in his shoes and have that overview of the whole Federation. I would also like to try an 'on the ground' horticulture role as I like being in the garden.
SA/Gwk Youth: What advice would you give to your younger self?
JO: I would have told myself to get as much experience as possible. When I went to university I just studied the course I was doing and didn’t attempt to get any experience until I left and I had to get a job – then I spent years doing jobs that didn’t excite me. Don’t be afraid to try new things.
SA/Gwk Youth: Good advice! How do you prepare for interviews?
JO: I make notes, but I don’t like a script. I like to know what I’m talking about. If you’re going for an interview always read the job description and make sure you can answer any questions that are desirable.
SA/Gwk Youth: What’s the best career advice you have ever been given?
JO: Someone did say to me go for work you enjoy not just what pays well because you have to do it every day. As long as you have enough to live and eat – and you can always grow plants!
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