How did you first hear about jobs in housing?
My mother has worked for the Housing Executive for most of her working life and was in a position to advise me of current housing vacancies. I had also spoken to representatives from the Housing Executive and various other housing organisations at careers fairs that I had attended.
How did you find further information about a career in housing?
I was able to find general housing information on the internet and by talking to people who work for the Housing Executive. I was able to find specific information on Ark Housing by reading annual reports available at Head Office and by consulting their website.
What was it that appealed to you when you were thinking about a job in housing?
I was aware that the work would be varied and interesting and that no two days would be the same. I had spoken to people already working in the sector who enjoyed their work and this heavily influenced my decision to apply for a job in housing. Also I wanted to gain office experience in order to progress my career.
How did you get your first job in housing?
I had seen the full-time role advertised on the internet and thought I would apply as I was only working part-time at the time. I was successful in the recruitment process and was offered a temporary 6 month contract. This contract was then renewed on a part-time permanent basis.
What personal skills and qualifications did you have that helped you secure your first job in housing?
I had previously worked in the Customer Services department of a large retail chain and I believe this experience of dealing with the public has helped me in my current role.
I had acquired and developed a number of skills throughout my degree pathway such as numerical skills, report-writing skills, IT skills and team-working skills. These competencies have been valuable to me in helping me to do my job to the best of my ability.
What skills & training have you gained since you have had your job in housing?
I have attended a number of SDM Housing Software training courses which have helped me to do my job more efficiently and effectively. Although the training was fairly specialist, it will prove valuable should I continue to work in the housing sector in the future.
I also attended a training course provided by the Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH) on one morning per week for eight weeks. The training was firm-specific to some extent as it was on Ark Housing's new Performance Management Framework. However, we also received useful business-related training as well, such as an introduction to management theory which could be applied across a number of sectors.
Describe a typical day?
As a receptionist, I am the first point of contact for anyone who telephones our office or calls in person. This could involve dealing with a request for maintenance services, answering general queries, or simply passing on telephone calls to the appropriate person.
I process a range of administrative functions at Ark such as issuing works orders to contractors, carrying out rent adjustments on tenant accounts, processing commencements and terminations of tenancy and various data entry tasks regarding housing benefit payments and invoices.
Due to the relatively small size of the organisation I often help to alleviate some of the workload of my colleagues if they are particularly busy. This has given me an insight into various roles throughout the organisation such as Housing Management and Maintenance and Property Services Management - experience which may have been more difficult to attain in a larger organisation.
Although I have a number of day-to-day tasks which remain much the same, no two days are alike. Due to the dynamic nature of the housing sector, my role is constantly evolving to keep up with the demands of our stakeholders.
What would you tell people who are interested in a housing career?
I would recommend a career in housing. The work is interesting, but can be challenging at times! Having known people who have experienced homelessness, I recognise how important housing providers are in our modern society. Therefore it is satisfying to know that I am part of an organisation that strives to eliminate homelessness through its various activities.