Alexa is a Major Gift Fundraiser at The University of Manchester. She graduated from Manchester with a BA in Religions and Theology in 2012.
Here, she talks about what she does and how she got there following her course.
On what I do
I meet with alumni and friends of the University to seek support and funding for our widening participation activities and for our cultural assets (Manchester Museum, the Whitworth, John Rylands Library and Jodrell Bank).
Every day is something different, and knowing that you are playing a small part in people's education is a wonderful feeling.
It is also lovely to see the impact donations can have. For example, we fund all of the University's Equity and Merit scholarships, which allow students from Africa to do a master's here in a subject they can't study in their home country.
We are lucky enough to meet our scholarship recipients at regular intervals throughout their degrees, and it is wonderful to see how much the University helps them to grow and develop.
On how I got into my job
I never had a career plan. After graduating, I knew I didn't want to go home. I loved Manchester as a city, so I decided to apply to the Manchester Graduate Talent internships, run by the Careers Service.
I started my career in the Peer Support team as a graduate intern, overseeing PASS and Peer Mentoring schemes, which I absolutely loved. It was difficult and it threw me into the world of work, but the skills I learnt in that first role have been invaluable in my career.
I had a series of other administration jobs before I found what I really wanted to do. I have always had an interest in working in the charity sector, but it isn't the easiest sector to get into. I didn't realise as a student that I could work in the charity sector and stay at the University, fundraising for higher education where I had a real passion.
On life at Manchester
In hindsight, Manchester did so much for me. It matured me and it helped me develop all of those interpersonal skills that are vital at work, such as leading teams during group work activities, doing presentations in front of your classmates, writing essays and meeting deadlines.
I got involved in quite a few extracurricular activities as well, like peer mentoring, volunteering as a student ambassador and completing a course with PwC. Sitting on societies and having extra things on your CV to talk about at interviews can be a real boost.
On studying Religions and Theology
First year was tough - getting used to a completely different way of working, writing essays, motivating yourself, meeting conflicting deadlines etc. However, once I got into a routine and got my workload under control, I absolutely loved my degree.
The best thing about it was the varied module choice. You can choose any area of religion to study or do a free choice from politics or history. Other universities I looked at didn't offer that freedom to study what you wanted.
The lecturers were also great; they were there to support you 100% of the way.
On the future
Like most people, I don't know what my future plans are… and that is okay!
I have realised I find it more useful to expand my skill set and work on developing areas where I might be lacking. If I have a well-rounded skill set, this will no doubt help with future career choices.
I do hope to continue working in the charity sector, but who knows what I will be doing in five or ten years' time?
On advice for other students
If you are looking to get into the charity sector, I would say do as much volunteering and fundraising as you can at university.
Any experience like this will prove invaluable on your CV and give you discussion points for interviews.