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We don’t need to tell you that this is not a normal year. You might already be revaluating your options as graduate jobs and graduate schemes are scaled back – well, we might have just the thing for you. It’s not a normal grad scheme, it’s better. It’s the most challenging and rewarding grad scheme there is – being a Sabbatical Officer.

Sabbatical Officer? Yep, the six people elected to lead the students’ union who work full-time, get paid, and get 12 months of seriously good experience. So, why is this grad sabb scheme so good?

Start at the top

Unlike a grad scheme where you start at the bottom, as a Sabbatical Officer you’ll start at the top. You’ll instantly become a board member of Students’ Union UCL, a charity with a turnover of around £10m and a team of more than 250 staff. Being on the board as a trustee, you’ll be responsible for the strategic direction and financial security of the Union. Setting budgets, managing the Chief Executive and senior team, and making big decisions.

Being a charity trustee is incredibly rewarding and gives you the kind of experience you might normally only receive later on in your career. Read these five benefits of being a trustee.

The experience and responsibility

We’ve talked about the experience and responsibility of being a trustee, but the day-to-day life of a Sabb is incredibly varied. Forget being attached to a desk like most grad schemes, as a Sabb you’ll be helping run the UK’s biggest Welcome Fair one minute, in a meeting with the Provost the next, and working on a national campaign straight after. Sabbs lead busy, sometimes hectic, lives that are anything but boring. You’ll fill up a CV up with good stuff in your first few months.

It’s obvious where the Sabbs fit within the Union, but what about UCL? The Sabbs are part of countless committees and working groups in UCL, helping to lead (and give the student view) on things like UCL East, accommodation costs, investments and appointments, academic regulations, and a lot more. Two of our Sabbatical Officers are also members of UCL council, sitting next to Lords and business leaders helping to steer the whole direction of UCL.

The training and development

Your year as a Sabbatical Officer is a whirlwind journey of challenges, learning, and development from which you’ll quickly develop into a confident leader.

During the summer, at the start of your term of office, you’ll get training on public speaking, chairing meetings, handling conflict, financial management, being a charity trustee, campaigning, policy development, and everything you need to know about what the Union does for students. There’s a huge investment in your development. You’ll have a personal development plan, a mentor/coach, externally facilitated 360 appraisals, and the opportunity to take on additional training and development if you want to. That kind of investment in you is available in some grad schemes, but not all. In some grad schemes, it’s hard not to think you’re just in competition with your peers, rather than being supported by them.

The pay

Sabbatical Officers are paid around £25,000 for a fixed term of 12 months. Graduate scheme salaries in London range from around £22k to £42k according to Glassdoor.co.uk. So they’re comparable just on pay terms, but what you often won’t get at a grad scheme is all the extras Sabbs get: 27 days paid holiday, plus bank holidays, extra time off at Christmas and Easter, contributions to your pension, a work laptop and tablet, and an amazing reference from UCL’s senior team. Not to mention all the training we talked about above.

The pre-grad grad scheme

Any student can be a Sabb, from any year of study. No need to wait until you finish UCL to take up the role. You could take a year out of your course, cram in 12 months of skills, experience, and knowledge, then head back to your course to finish off. By the time you come to the end of your studies, you’ll have a year’s worth of experience no one else will get close to. It’s the pre-grad-scheme grad-scheme - a sabb-scheme.

The opportunities

So where do you end up after 12 months? In a normal grad scheme, you’d hope to move up to the next level or be in a position to find something new. As you come to the end of your term as an officer we’ll support you with your next career step.

In recent years Sabbatical Officers have gone on to the Civil Service Fast Stream, roles in KMPG and other top businesses, further study, roles in charities and even full-time jobs at UCL and other universities. You’ll join an illustrious group of UCL Sabbatical Officer alumni including Lords, directors, and senior leaders across the world. A ready-made network that will help you throughout your career.

Interested?

Nominations to be an officer are open now, you can find out all about it here.