Lizzie had no idea this type of role existed

Like lots of people who finish University, I had no idea what I wanted to do.

I went to Swansea University in all honesty because all my friends were going and I had absolutely no idea what I wanted to do as a job for the rest of my life. I remember it being such an overwhelming decision being 19 at the time.

Once I completed my three year English degree, I fell into the situation that when I applied for jobs every response was “Thanks but no thanks, you don’t have any experience in this job.” This was a response I received from Merthyr Valleys Homes when I applied for their Communications Officer role, a role that involved telling everyone great stories about the business through different platforms and protecting their reputation.

Before I came across this job, I had no idea that this type of role even existed but knew I’d love it as I’m very inquisitive, I already used social media and I had studied great storytelling and language. So I went back to them and asked if they would be willing to give me the experience that I needed, which they agreed to.

I worked part time in the retail store; NEXT in the mornings and then volunteered my afternoons at Merthyr Valley Homes supporting the colleague who successfully got the role. I got stuck into some great projects such as the website redesign, newsletter refresh and social media platforms. I done this for a whole year and gained so much confidence on what it was like to even work in an office environment as well as how to do the job.

After a year a role came up in Valleys to Coast in Bridgend for a Communications Assistant which I applied for and successfully got. Although it meant a good hour commute, I could finish my part time job in retail and gain paid experience in the role which would look better on my CV.

I done this for two years before a restructure in the organisation meant that I was no longer assisting anyone to carry out communications and it became a role that I was responsible for meaning my job changed to Communications Officer.

Three years of doing this role and a change in the future of communications meant there was need to deliver communications digitally. As an organisation we were becoming ambitious to look and feel more professional for our customers, colleagues and stakeholders, to be a landlord of choice, an employer of choice and a partner of choice which meant more resources was needed to support the organisation to do this, so I recruited a Communications Champion to join me and help achieve this.

This gave me the opportunity to develop my role to become more strategic and manage communications at a higher level, supporting the Chief Executive and our Directors to deliver engaging communications both inside and outside the organisation. My job title was updated to reflect this, aligning it to other communication professionals outside of the housing sector too and became Head of Communications.

My role and experience has grown so much, I’ve been lucky that opportunities came up when they did but being quite ambitous anyway I was pretty determined to develop as much as I could.

I’m currently moving onto the next chapter in my personal life and becoming a mam for the first time which Valleys to Coast have been really supportive about, encouraging flexible working and supporting me to attend antenatal appointments.