Célia Franquet case study

MA Literature and Culture


I am currently looking for an opportunity in the non-profit sector, preferably in heritage. I have, however, been accepted into a graduate scheme and have been offered a placement. I am waiting to hear back from the charity to know if they think I am a good fit or not.

Did you know what you wanted to do before you started University?

No, I didn't. I started having a clearer idea of what I'd like to do when I started my master's degree at the University of Birmingham. I knew then I wanted to work in the non-profit sector, probably in a cultural environment. My internship at Canal and River Trust has really aroused my interest in the heritage sector, and that is why I participated in the Masters Campus-Based Team Internship focusing on heritage.

I then decided to apply for graduate schemes in the charity sector and the public sector. I would have liked to get an opportunity in the heritage sector but as the opportunities are scarce and in high demand, I broadened my search.

Did you have any work experience before your graduated?

Yes. I took part in a high number of volunteering activities and internships during my master's degree. I volunteered with STAR (Student Action for Refugees) for a campaign for two weeks.

I helped the BE Festival 2019, being a volunteer there for a month. I also did a six-month internship at Canal and River Trust, leading research on my own.

Finally, I took part in the Masters Campus-Based Team Internship that focused on developing a project for a charity. When I was still in high school, I also worked in a bakery for a year.

Have you faced any key challenges during your career journey?

As I am looking for a job at the moment, the key challenges are the uncertainty and the low success rate. With the pandemic, it is very difficult to find an opportunity and I get a lot of rejection. It is hard to keep going when you spend a day on an application and don't even get to the interview stage.

Also, I got into the graduate scheme but that is also difficult. 30 people selected won't get a role and I didn't know if I would be one of them for two months. The process in itself is very difficult as well because there are 6 steps before actually receiving a job offer. To overcome these challenges, I find it important to apply for roles that you are really motivated about and to always have applications pending. In this way, if you receive an email saying you haven't been accepted, you still have another application pending. Also, talking about this experience with other graduates is really helpful as I find a lot of us are going through the same thing.

How did your time at Birmingham help you prepare for this role?

I was able to do the Masters Campus-Based Team Internship which was a great opportunity and really improved my CV. It also gave me a taste of what working would be like. I also have been quite a few times to the Careers Network (the UoB careers service) for help with application and cover letters and the help has been amazing.

Finally, I found opportunities through Careers Connect such as my volunteering at Canal and River Trust. I have also attended a seminar about the charity sector. Some employees of the charity sector came to talk to us about their journey and what it was like to work in the charity sector.

What are your career plans for the future?

I would like to develop a career in the heritage sector, probably in project management. I am also interested in research and policy. Most of all, I want to develop a career in the charity sector.

What advice would you give to students who are entering the
employment market? 

The university gives really good seminars that help you have an insight into a sector. Definitely go along them to see what it is really like. Careers service is also very helpful; don't hesitate to book an appointment with them to talk about your future projects. I would say that if you are planning on joining the charity or heritage sector, it's a great idea to take part in volunteering activities while you are at university. It shows commitment and experience. I know university gets really busy and it might be hard to find the time. However, there are flexible opportunities out there and it's really worth having a look.

As I just entered the employment market myself, it's hard for me to give advice. However, I would say, don't get discouraged, talk to people in the same situation as you and use careers service. Also, I personally find that while looking for a long-term job, doing a casual/temporary job or volunteering is a great way to show employers that you are still active and to keep you sane during the job search-it gives you something else to do and focus on. Good luck!


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