Being a Rocket Scientist means getting to work across many different projects and with different clients to help transform people’s lives
To find out more what life at Rocket Science is like, read below from Jenna, a senior grants officer with Rocket Science since October 2020.
What’s your current role?
I work on a variety of grant programmes for clients including local and regional authorities, which focus on supporting some of the most disadvantaged groups in society, such as young people at risk or involved in criminal activity. I provide support and guidance from the grant design stage, through to the application stage and then post the award of a grant, reviewing monitoring reports and making grant payments. My role involves working collaboratively with clients to best manage the different stages of their grant programme. I also provide support and guidance to applicants during the application process and grant holders during their grant.
How did you get here?
I left university with a MA in Modern History. I am originally from Cornwall and after university, I temped for Plymouth Council, but the bright lights of London were calling and I moved to the ‘big smoke’ with no job or anywhere to live! A week later, I had found a temp job and a house to move into. After a couple of years in financial services, I moved to the charity sector and have worked in grants for nearly 8 years now. I started off at the FIA Institute, the Dunhill Medical Trust followed and I then moved to People’s Health Trust, a charity which provides funding for projects that are seeking to address the underlying structural cause of health inequalities.
What’s a typical day like?
Truthfully, there is no typical day in your life at Rocket Science! Depending on the priorities of any of the multiple grant programmes I work on, I might be answering queries from grant holders, preparing for an e-visit with a grant holder, reviewing monitoring information, moderating eligibility assessments for grant applications, designing a scoring rubric, preparing a grant assessment, drafting a feedback letter and the list goes on.
What was your best moment so far?
Recently, I have worked extensively with a client, designing their grant programme from the very beginning, which has been invaluable experience, putting into practice what I have learnt from my years of working in grants at what a ‘good’ grants programme looks like. I am particularly proud that as part of the design of the programme, I removed some of the common barriers that stop small, grassroot organisations from normally applying for this type of funding.
What has been your biggest learning?
When designing the grant programme, I have been keen to ensure that we are asking for information that is proportionate in relation to their grant request. It has been important to distinguish between information that is ‘nice to have’ and information that is needed to make a decision of whether to fund.
What’s your advice for future Rocket Scientists?
If you are facing a tricky situation with the management of a grant or want a second opinion about how best to manage an aspect of a grant programme, reach out to your colleagues and ask their opinion. From my experience, trouble shooting ideas with my colleagues has been so beneficial and helped me find the right solution.