Meet the PDO Staff: Francesca Plom

Ambassadors Simon Oyegoke and Karys Spicer recently interviewed Outrach Activities Co-ordinator, Francesca Plom. She has been with the Partnership Development Office since September 2017, working with schools in Kent to co-ordinate and deliver our outreach activities. She shares more about her role and work.

What got you into PDO work?

I have always worked with young people, but before I worked for the Partnership Development Office, I worked for a charity that supported NEET Young people (Not in Employment, Education or Training). I saw the opportunity with the PDO and thought it was a great opportunity to work with students before they finished school and help them figure out a pathway which worked for them.

What is your role in PDO?

I’m an Outreach Activities Coordinator, so my job is really varied but mainly, it is to support schools in booking outreach activities and managing and delivering events which are booked.

What is your favourite event?

I manage an event called The Succeed Programme, it is quite unique in terms of our offer because it is a long term programme where students come to campus once a month to explore their options. It’s my favourite event because I get to work with young people over a period of time and actually physically see the impact we have.

What do you enjoy most about working with the Ambassadors?

I like the experiences that ambassadors can bring to events. Ambassadors are the ones who make our events more personal. Ambassadors are also the ones who can inspire students the most. But also you do get to watch ambassadors grow and develop too which is great.

What is the best part of working in Outreach?

Essentially, you get to work in an environment where you know you are having an impact in peoples lives. It’s great to know what you’re doing is trying to help local students and schools.

What does a typical work day look like for you?

Before lockdown, no two days were the same but a typical day would be constantly in and out of the office. It is a very people centred job. You’re either meeting with schools, delivering on events, training or briefing ambassadors or working with people in the office.

Since lockdown, we still have those important relationships to build with schools but this is done more virtually. This will involve Zoom or Teams meetings and a bigger emphasis on developing curriculum, particularly online or virtual opportunities.

What jobs do you do day-to-day?

Day to day this is again mixed. Generally it will involve communicating with my schools and working on events or activities. This might be organising the event or delivering on it.

What planning might you have to do?

We do most of the planning for events and activities. As OACs we have a set number of schools and we are responsible for coordinating and planning the events for those schools. Planning might include adding a booking to our spreadsheets and diaries, recording information about the event on HEAT, preparing resources and setting up work opportunities and after events sorting the evaluation and feedback.

As we work with multiple schools the biggest aspect of planning is managing our diaries and our workload to meet deadlines.

What work do you do with ambassadors?

It’s fortunate that in our roles we get to work with ambassadors on events and also help prepare ambassadors for events. We will help with training, brief ambassadors before events, work with them directly on events and provide feedback afterwards. We also support ambassadors in training for new roles such as tutors and leads. Since lockdown we’ve been working with ambassadors on developing curriculum which has been really useful too.

Are you an Ambassador Mentor?

Yes, I currently mentor 4 Stipend ambassadors. I like being a mentor as I like supporting ambassadors and the scholarship can be daunting at times so it’s nice to think they can come to you if needed and you can support them in achieving something. I think Stipends can forget what an achievement it is to do so many hours during their studies.

How often do you go to work remotely with ambassadors?

As we are still all remote working, we are constantly trying to create new ways to work with ambassadors. As I mentioned earlier, the Succeed Programme. This also went online during lockdown which meant that we worked regularly with ambassadors the turn this programme online and deliver it. This was great as it felt as ‘normal’ as possible under the circumstances.