The Centre for Youth Impact is recruiting…. again. The more eagle-eyed amongst you may have noticed that we appear to have been doing a lot of recruitment recently. We’re not looking to expand the Centre to the size of a couple of 11-a-side football teams though; it’s just that we haven’t got it quite right yet. We’ve been out to recruit twice since December, and on neither occasion did we make an appointment. It’s unlikely that we’ll ever know the precise reasons why (always a frustration for a researcher!), but we’ve spent a fair bit of time reflecting as we prepare to go out to recruit again.
One of the most important aspects of working at the Centre is a sense of comfort and ease with our being a small, new charity. This means we’re still in start-up mode, thinking hard about (and sometimes changing) the way we do things, and often coming up against things that we need to do better. We all have to muck in to this process – everyone’s voice matters in thinking through how we want to work, and everyone’s effort is important in creating and maintaining our approach. We frequently experience uncertainty, have to co-exist with complexity, and must find our place in a shifting landscape. Sometimes we change our minds - publicly. This kind of working environment won’t be for everyone.
The second and equally important feature is agility. We work across skillsets and ‘background’. We’re looking for practitioners who can talk compellingly and curiously about the science of evidence, and researchers who can reflect with empathy and understanding about the importance of relationships at the heart of practice. These things are hard to find. Most people are trained or experienced in one or the other, and their CVs are written as such. We are looking for people who understand what the whole spectrum looks like, and are excited to journey from one end to the other. We know that it’s unlikely that someone will already have had this experience in a former role, but we’d love to meet people who see the whole picture and are at ease enough to be fluent in different perspectives. We also know that some of this experience might not be within the youth sector - and that’s ok. Part of our role is to bring together knowledge and perspectives from other sectors that those of us working with young people might not encounter. What matters is the ability and desire to understand the unique context within youth work and provision for young people, and to continue to demonstrate an open and enquiring mind.
We work hard at the Centre. We have high expectations, and an ambitious plan about what we want to achieve. New strands of work come in regularly, and we have to flex and adapt to embed them into our existing portfolio. We’re a small charity, seeking to raise funding from trusts and foundations rather than pursuing a new business model that ‘sells products’ to ‘clients’. Everyone needs to play a part in nurturing our relationships, and refining our offer to practitioners, commissioners and the funding community. Every choice we make, matters. Every word we use, counts. Everybody counts or nobody counts (to quote my favourite fictional detective, Harry Bosch).
But I think we offer good things in return. I recently asked the team to share some thoughts on what it is like working at the Centre. The common themes were continuous learning, shared purpose, personal growth and trust. I am delighted that colleagues feel they are empowered, stretched and supported – their words, not mine. I believe this is how we collectively do our best work.
This week, we’re opening recruitment to two new posts: Director of Research, Design and Insight, and Data Manager. The Centre’s strategy is dependent on these two roles. We’re excited and optimistic to see who would like to come and join us.
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