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“Be honest with yourself about what you actually find fulfilling” – Deanne Sidebottom on landing a job at Cancer Council Victoria

People find amazing jobs on EthicalJobs.com.au every day. This is part of a series of articles that go behind the scenes to meet some of the people and organisations finding each other through EthicalJobs.com.au.

Today’s story is from Deanne Sidebottom who found her job as People Services Officer at Cancer Council Victoria on EthicalJobs.com.au.

Cancer Council Victoria works to prevent cancer, empower patients and save lives. It has developed an international reputation for their innovative work in cancer research, prevention and support. 

Starting out with work

I always liked science in high school and thought I would work with animals, so I have a Science degree with a major in Zoology. I also liked learning a language and majored in Japanese from an Arts degree. Even though I was interested in knowing how things work, and still am, in my mind science never translated into a job that I wanted to do day-to-day – there was a people factor that I just felt was missing. My casual hospitality job was somehow more fulfilling from a customer service/helping others point of view, and I remember graduating feeling quite confused about the right career for me.

I stayed on in hospitality (at Melbourne & Olympic Parks) after I graduated while I travelled/worked out what I wanted to do with my life. There was something exciting about being involved in major events and playing my part behind the scenes, even though it could be tough conditions and long hours. I took a staffing assistant role for the Australian Open one year, which led to a promotion of Staffing Coordinator. Delivering an event on a scale as major as the Australian Open (for staffing – think almost 1000 retail staff to wrangle and hundreds of shifts to confirm) was as stressful as it was rewarding. I got a lot out of providing support to new staff and being someone the rest of the staffing team could rely on.

Working at Cancer Council Victoria

Cancer Council Victoria’s mission is to reduce cancer deaths and improve quality of life for people living with cancer while empowering the community by leading and integrating research with our prevention, support and advocacy work.

Before I joined the organisation, I was honestly not aware of the breadth of what Cancer Council Victoria delivers and the renown held on an international level, particularly for our research and law reform work. I grew up knowing Slip Slop Slap and seeing the effect of changes to smoking laws in public places for example, but hadn’t put them together under the same organisation in my mind. The special work of the Cancer Nurses on our 131120 Information and Support Line is also something I had heard of but never fully appreciated until I joined.

My role as People Services Officer helps look after the transactional side of Human Resources – getting people on-board, supporting the employee lifecycle and being a main point of contact for employment-related queries. Oversight of our volunteer management is also another important part of what I do, which will increase with the implementation of our new Volunteer Strategy. This was also a HR-driven project that I was very fortunate to be involved with.

A normal day for me will involve anything from posting job adverts, responding to leader queries through our central inbox, drafting contract variations and troubleshooting and reporting from our HR Information System. Over the week I balance this ‘Business As Usual’ workload with project and event work that I may have a role in or be responsible for delivering, as well as supervision of any regular volunteers that come in to support our team.

Why work for a better world?

I find the opportunity to volunteer on Daffodil Day and run a site in the CBD with my HR team each year incredibly rewarding. People really do have a lot of trust in, and respect for, the Daffodil logo and Cancer Council brand, and will often share their cancer experience and motivations for donating. Having that trust to open up to you, hearing the impact on someone’s life first hand, and knowing that in even the smallest way you played a part in making that difference, is very special.

After graduating, I was still unsure if I wanted to turn my study of science into a career. I then had professional experience in the Staffing/Human Resources space of hospitality, but there were a few things from that working environment that didn’t sit well with me. Feeling a little lost and not sure where to begin with my ‘career path’ (I’d never really felt like I had one), I decided to visit a career counsellor. Helen from Career Confident helped me to look more objectively at not just how I might use my skills and experience, but what it was that I found genuinely rewarding in a job. She suggested that Human Resources in a not-for-profit setting might be the balance that I was looking for, and encouraged me to start researching roles on EthicalJobs.com.au. I was already a regular supporter of Cancer Council Victoria, and it just so happened that my mum had been volunteering at their warehouse for a little over a year when this opportunity came up. It just felt like it was meant to be. 

There is something about having a common goal and working for a cause bigger than yourself that helps keep things in perspective. Working in the not-for-profit space has made me realise how much happier I am knowing my efforts contribute to something more meaningful. It’s also great to know that my efforts are valued by the amazing researchers and fundraisers and cancer nurses I get to support – in a much different way than just how they effect a profit margin.

For ethical jobseekers my advice would be to make the most of opportunities that come up, even if they aren’t your end goal (if you even know what that is). You never know what they may set you up for in the future. Also, be honest with yourself about what you actually find fulfilling – if you value helping people (whatever that looks like to you), you’ll get so much more from a job that aligns and allows you to do just that.

From a recruitment point of view – working for a not-for-profit is as much about the cause as it is your own career. For me, a successful candidate should be able to convey a good balance between the two.

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