Changemaker spotlight: Annie Belcastro
When Annie Belcastro went to meet with a career counsellor she was looking for a more community minded and purpose driven job. Her expectations were met then exceeded, and she now works as the General Manager of the - a free community legal service in Perth.
“I had been running a not-for-profit called the Western Suburbs Business Association for about six and a half years when I met with the career counsellor. She was very well connected into UWA and knew about the Graduate Certificate in Social Impact,” says Annie.
“Looking at my values and my job experience she thought the course could be really be great for me.”
Annie recalls that as soon as she started the Graduate Certificate in Social Impact, it felt right.
“I think one of the main eye-opening moments for me, through the program, was the realisation that society can work collectively to create impact in terms of the not-for-profit, corporate and government sectors. We can work together to address major challenges.”
“It was interesting, because we had quite a few MBA students taking the social impact elective and many of them were engineers and managers. To watch them come to the realisation that there was so much more they could do in their roles with a social impact approach, and the methodologies were not just limited to the NFP or government sectors, it was so interesting to see.”
The power of networks
Annie was thrilled to connect with like-minded professionals and expand her networks, and she was pleasantly surprised that rather than being competitive or stressful the classes were collaborative and supportive.
“The people in the course were just so incredibly passionate about their particular area of interest, and the broad range of experience they've got. If you need any kind of professional advice, people are super open and giving. Some amazing friendships have come out of it.”
One of Annie’s lecturers made time to help her prepare for a job interview that would prove pivotal in her pursuit of a more fulfilling career.
“I think having completed the Grad Cert in Social Impact put me in a unique position when I applied for my current role,” she says.
“One of the board members gave me that feedback, that completing the course was really a compelling deciding factor for them in appointing me to my role at the Subiaco Justice Centre.”
Getting on with the job
Now, Annie works each day among a team of volunteer lawyers and law students.
“I'm the first paid employee, so there's a lot to do,” she says.
“Just to harness the energy and the resources we've got and the fundraising and marketing, and building the services too, with the ultimate outcome of the provision of those services to the community.”
Subiaco Justice Centre serves people experiencing financial hardship, some of whom are homeless or on the verge of homelessness. They deal with family law issues, civil matters and criminal issues - serving a community who would otherwise have difficulty accessing legal services.
“It's about having a good values fit,” Annie says.
“It's not that I didn't in my last job, it's just that what I'm pursuing now, supporting the outcomes of the Subiaco Justice Centre, is really aligned with where I want to put my time and energy.”
“Once I started the course, just like this job, I felt like I'd found my tribe.”