Job Dreams: NCS Team Leader
As part of our Job Dreams series, we speak to professionals from different careers and share their advice with you. Last month, we learned what it's like to be a firefighter. This month, we met Jemimah, who told us all about what it’s like to be an NCS Team Leader!
What do you do?
I’m an NCS Team Leader in the South East. Every summer (and sometimes autumn) I work on the NCS programme, mentoring a group of up to sixteen young people. This year will be my sixth year.
Can you tell us what your day-to-day is like?
An NCS programme lasts for a few weeks. Before a programme starts, all NCS staff complete training together – this includes things like first aid, safeguarding and how to run sessions. We’re given very comfy hoodies, and then the fun begins! During the programme I work with an assistant team leader to look after our group, who often have never met each other before. As NCS leaders we help each team to learn new skills, and then support them to design and deliver a project that benefits their local community. My job is to encourage each person, to challenge the group to learn new things together, and to be a sounding board for their ideas. This can involve running games and icebreakers, leading sessions and workshops, being a listening ear, giving motivational speeches on rainy days, speaking to parents, and working with other staff as a team. I also have less fun jobs like doing registers and risk assessments, giving out plasters and looking after all the paperwork, but it’s all an important part of keeping everyone safe.
What do you love most about your job?
I love that no day is the same on NCS! One day you could be helping someone up a high ropes course, and another day you could be painting a youth centre to give back to your local community. My favourite part of the job is helping young people realise they have a voice and the power to make a difference, and then watching them do just that. It’s always amazing to see how much each group achieves in just a few weeks.
What do you find most challenging?
NCS involves getting a lot done in a short time, so it can be very tiring. Being accountable for sixteen people’s safety is also a big responsibility, but all the staff work closely as a team to support each other. I’ve made many good friends through working on NCS.
What did you see yourself doing when you were a kid?
When I was younger, I wanted to be a paediatrician. I did some hospital work experience in sixth form and found out I wasn’t cut out for it – it’s a very difficult job done by some very amazing people. It was a hard realisation but I’m glad I found out when I did.
What challenges did you face in reaching where you are today?
Realising that my childhood dream job wasn’t for me was a difficult moment. I had no idea what to do with my life and felt very lost for a few years. Doing NCS as a participant helped me to get my confidence back, and when I started working for NCS I found out I had a passion for youth work. My biggest challenge was to keep believing in myself and to keep trusting that I would find what was right for me eventually.
If you weren’t working in this field, what do you think you’d be?
Through doing English at university, I found out that I loved telling people’s stories. When I’m not doing NCS, I’m working on my master’s degree in journalism and documentary making.
Where do you see yourself going next?
My new dream is to produce TV documentaries and series that tell the stories of those whose voices often go unheard. I’d especially like to produce films about young people’s lives, so I can combine filming and youth work together!
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What do you know now that you wish you’d known when you first left school?
Most people don’t know what they want to do straight away, and that’s okay. At school (and often at university) there’s a lot of pressure to have your future worked out. We work out life as we go along, and if you don’t know yet, don’t worry.
What advice would you give to someone interested in joining your industry?
Being an NCS team leader is challenging, but very rewarding. If you enjoy helping others to grow in confidence, you’re passionate about youth work and social action, and you’re willing to work hard, give it a go. If you’ve done NCS as a participant, even better – you’ll already know and understand the NCS values and ethos, and why we do what we do. Equally, you don’t have to have done NCS – the training will teach you everything you need to know. The job will push and challenge you, but that means you’ll grow too. It’s one of the best jobs I’ve ever done. Different providers run NCS in different parts of the country, so search your local area and fill in this form to get started.
What’s the best piece of professional advice you’ve been given?
That failing is a normal part of life and of learning. It can be very frustrating and discouraging when things go wrong, or when you keep trying at something and it doesn’t work out. But I’ve learnt so much from making mistakes and from trying things that I didn’t like. Our society puts so much emphasis on being successful and happy, but there is no successful person in history who didn’t fail multiple times along the way. Keep going and don’t give up.
What quote do you live by?
“Comparison is the thief of joy.” - Theodore Roosevelt
Don’t compare your progress to others – everyone’s lives move on a different timeline. There is no right time or right way for life to happen. Take each step as it comes and don’t worry about the future!