An Interview with Tolu Atilola

Friday 10 March 2017

Tolu Atilola attended work experience at The Shakespeare Hospice. Read about her experience here...


Where did you go on your placement? (Who are they, what do they do, what department?)

I undertook a week’s work experience at The Shakespeare Hospice in Stratford, a local hospice which offers care and support to those affected by life-limiting illnesses. During my placement, I worked in the corporate fundraising department, which aims to secure funding from different businesses in order to finance the hospice’s services.


What were you hoping to achieve on this placement? (What did you want to learn/experience/find out?)

Most of all, I really wanted to develop my teamwork and presenting skills, as I think these are really valuable skills which will surely be useful in the future. Also, I wanted to become more confident in working with new people and stepping outside of my comfort zone - obviously, corporate fundraising is something that I’ve never done before, so it was a nice challenge to try something completely new.


How did you feel beforehand?

Before my placement, I was quite nervous to say the least. I had no idea what sort of work I would be doing prior to my first day - so I didn't know if I would find it challenging, or maybe even boring. Luckily, I was pleasantly surprised!


Describe some of your tasks

My main task for the week was to design and deliver a pitch as part of a team to two different local businesses, with the aim of convincing them to sign up for The Shakespeare Hospice’s annual ‘Dragon Boat Race’ event, which raises a great deal of funds through them.

Over the first few days, we did lots of preparation for this - including learning valuable presentation techniques (use of voice, posture and tone) as well as learning lots about the work of the Hospice and its many services.

On the third day, we made our first presentation to ‘Benchmark’, a grounds maintenance company located just outside of Stratford, and had the opportunity to meet their Managing Director and Office Manager. The presentation went really well, and we managed to persuade them to register for the event (and even received a free umbrella!). When we got back, we also did an impromptu presentation to the CEO of The Shakespeare Hospice, Angie Arnold, who thought we were great!

The next day, we spent the morning phoning up local businesses to generate interest concerning the event. This was a very daunting task, seeing as none of us were used to phoning up people directly - but as time went on, we became more comfortable with talking to people on the phone in a direct and polite manner. Later that day, we gave our second and final presentation to ‘BDR Group’, and internet and technology company based in Stratford. The building was much larger than Benchmark and had a much more corporate feel; on arrival, we were led into a professional-looking boardroom where we met the Managing Director, General Sales Manager and Billing Manager. This presentation also went incredibly well, as we managed to secure their interest in the event.

On our final day, we called more businesses and some local schools (my own school included!) while another sub-team wrote a press release to send to the Stratford Herald. After this, we were joined by teachers from our schools and gave short presentation of the tasks we had undertaken during the week - before going outside and taking some photos!


What was your biggest achievement?

My most significant achievement, along with the rest of my team, was successfully presenting to two companies. On Monday, it seemed totally impossible - but by Wednesday, I was confidently presenting in front of a company, receiving brilliant feedback and most importantly, raising a lot of money for the hospice.


What did you learn? (about yourself? about the job role? the company/sector?)

I would say I made the most significant improvements to my presentation and public speaking skills - by the end of the week, I felt much more confident speaking in front of an audience and implementing certain techniques such as posture, tone and eye contact. Although the role of ‘corporate fundraiser’ might not sound as exciting as other roles, I felt it a truly rewarding experience as I had the opportunity to meet many interesting people and raise money for a charity which does amazing work. In particular, I learnt about the significance of fundraising to The Shakespeare Hospice; as it receives very little funding from the government, the fundraising department is incredibly important in supporting the hospice.


How has this helped you?

Honestly, I believe that the skills that I have learnt this week will stay with me for a lifetime - I feel that if I was asked to do a presentation in school, for example, I would now find it a lot easier and altogether less stressful, as well as the delivery of the presentation being better in itself. Even if I don’t work in corporate fundraising in the future, these skills will still be very valuable and applicable to most jobs. 

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