National Careers Week


05 March 2018

It’s National Careers Week and, as part of that, we’re supporting the Chartered Institute of Housing to inspire the next generation of housing professionals!

Read stories from:

• Our apprentices, who’ve learned and earned on the job
• Our residents, who we supported into jobs with us
• Our young volunteers, who’ve boosted their CVs after leaving education.


Apprenticeships are a great way to get that first step on the employment ladder or make a complete career change.

Oli started an apprenticeship with our Sustainability team to gain vital experience and qualifications following his school and university education. Working as an Energy Adviser, he is helping our residents to reduce their bills and make their homes energy efficient.

He said: “I was very keen to get a job focusing on sustainability and energy. These areas are specialist so I required training beyond my school and university education. The apprenticeship provided an opportunity to learn from colleagues, experience an office environment, and obtain relevant qualifications whilst being paid.

“My apprenticeship was always about building confidence. I feel I have become more professional as a result and I’ve really reached my potential. I’ve been able to prove myself in a professional environment, supported by my peers and leaders. It’s really propelled me in the right direction on my career path.”

Amisha chose an apprenticeship with our Housing team in the West Midlands after deciding college wasn’t for her.

She said: “I’ve gained so much knowledge and experience in Housing, and I’ve done this while earning a salary instead of building up student debt. I wouldn’t have been able to gain this experience if I just went to university.

“Completing my apprenticeship is a big accomplishment for me as I now have the experience to hopefully get a stable job or contract.”

Lawrence proved you didn’t have to be straight out of school to be an apprentice. The former telecommunications engineer wanted a career change so joined our apprenticeship programme at the age of 34 and now works with us as an Employment and Volunteer Officer.

He said: “A lot of people thought I was crazy to take what was seen as a step back. But I liked the idea of starting at the bottom and working my way up to really get a feel for the job and the organisation as a whole.

“I also liked the idea of working for a housing association in a customer-facing role because I still got the contact with people and, as a housing association tenant myself, I felt I could understand their issues. I wanted to help residents find solutions to make their lives better.

“No day was the same during the apprenticeship and there were different challenges but I had constant support from my mentors, on both a professional and personal level, and it was wonderful.

 “I’ve been really pushed to reach my potential and it has been hard work but I have persevered because I can see how far I’ve come and the achievements I’ve made and that’s really uplifting.”

Residents who became Optivo employees

At Optivo we believe in enhancing our residents’ lives through employment and training support; some have even come to work for us.

Natasha is a resident who turned to us for help when she was struggling to find a job and got into financial difficulty as a result. She is now on contract with us as an Area Support Administrator. 

She said: “Optivo helped me to create a CV, look for jobs and prep me for interviews. As it happened, one came up at the company. I wanted to work for Optivo as they had helped me a great deal as a resident. I wanted to give something back because they’d made such a positive difference in my life.

“During my time working with the organisation I have met some amazing people and made new friends. I’ve also had ample training. My confidence has grown so much. I now, for the first time in a very long time, have faith in my abilities and myself. I am seeing light at the end of the tunnel and the spark has returned in my eyes.

“My job involves dealing with residents’ queries in person and on the phone, which I love. It’s amazing being both a resident and employee; I am amazed by how much Optivo does for residents. I have a greater understanding of the company and what it strives to achieve. And being a resident is a massive advantage as I know where residents are coming from and I can better understand how to solve issues.

“The best thing about my job – and about working in housing – is know that you’re making a positive difference to people’s lives. I know I am part of something big and rewarding and that has given me a sense of purpose.”

Whitney was a resident helped into employment by Optivo. She now works for us as a Project Officer and has since provided employment and training support to many other residents like herself.

She said: “My job is to support residents into employment and apprenticeships. I help learners with CV building, interview skills and I can offer them general job training. So far, on my own, I have supported 100 people back into work. I feel complete with my life and I am able to give others the chance that I was given.”

Resident Carey and her daughter Jesamine are both working for us after receiving employment support from Whitney!

Carey joined Whitney’s team on work experience and learnt all about building CVs, making employment statements and interviewing. She now works for us as a Team Assistant.

She said: “Whitney provided guidance throughout – helping me to find positions and write a brilliant statement that helped me to get a job with Optivo.”

Jesamine was made redundant in 2017 and worried about how she was going to pay the bills. Whitney helped her to revamp her CV, and improve her interview skills. The result was a great new job with Optivo’s Response Team.

She said: “I feel like I’ve finally found my place. I’m part of one big family where everyone is supportive and is willing to help one another.”



As well as paid work, we offer volunteer placements that can provide vital work experience in the housing industry, and can be a real boost for your CV.

joined us a Safer Hero, supporting our older residents, after finishing his degree in English Language, Media and Communications.

He said: “I really enjoy working with diverse groups of people. I like helping and I wanted to do something good.

“I’m interested in starting a career as a housing officer and I felt this volunteer position would give me vital experience. I would recommend more students do it. Many are in a rush to get out and make money. I think I would benefit from some work experience. I think businesses appreciate that; they want someone mature who can hit the ground running.”