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ThinkAhead look for the following skills when recruiting graduates:

Leadership - The ability to act as a professional role model, demonstrate initiative, and engage others and enable them to achieve their goals.

Motivation - Personal commitment to transforming the lives of people with mental illness, with an understanding of the positive impact of social work and the Think Ahead mission.

Adaptability - Resilience and flexibility in changing circumstances, with the ability to work under pressure and deal with uncertain or unexpected outcomes.

Relationship-building - Empathy and respect for all individuals, with the ability to build relationships and understand people’s motives and perspectives.

Communication - The ability to collaborate with and influence a wide range of people, in person and through written communication.

Problem-solving - The ability to objectively analyse situations, using evidence and clear judgement to generate effective solutions.

Self-awareness - The ability to understand, and reflect critically on, both your own personal development and how your actions affect others.

Think Ahead is a new fast-track graduate scheme for graduates who are remarkable enough to make a difference. To find out more about the programme please visit our website.


UCL Alumni Profile: Alicia Hedges


Current Role: Trainee Mental Health Social Worker

Studied at UCL: Psychology B.Sc. 2013

I joined Think Ahead as part of the first cohort. Having completed the residential Summer Institute in Leeds and a shadowing induction period, I now work as a trainee social worker in a community mental health team in West London. Prior to this, and after graduating UCL, I taught English in a public school in Southern China, worked as a support worker at a rehabilitation unit in North London and as an assistant psychologist in an acute psychiatric ward in East London.

One in four individuals will have a mental health problem at some point in their life. These are people from every demographic, age, class, culture, race, gender. The great thing about my work is it is as varied as people are. Constantly learning, I enjoy the almost immediate opportunity to apply theory to practice. At UCL I learnt to work independently which has helped me balance studying with managing my caseload. Participating in seminars at UCL has also provided me the leadership skills and confidence in collaborating with service users, medical staff, police, local authorities and legal teams.

Social work allows me to work holistically, within a service user’s complete social context. As part of my job an individual will trust me with their story, to advocate for them and to empower them to take control of their own lives. It’s incredibly affirming to cause a direct improvement to someone’s circumstances; helping them access housing, employment or build meaningful relationships. As part of the programme, we frequently meet with an academic tutor, practice specialist and consultant social worker. This is important as the programme, and working with vulnerable people, can be challenging and emotive. Having this support allows me to reflect effectively and improve my practice.

After my first year is finished I will gain a postgraduate social work diploma, which allows me to register as a social worker. By the end of the second year I will have gained a master’s degree in social work from the University of York. As part of the first cohort I have also been able to pursue exciting opportunities; such as sitting on a panel addressing future applicants and being interviewed for BBC Radio 4. Others students have written newspaper articles, blogs and taken participant representative roles.

After the two year scheme I am keen to remain in frontline social work; most likely planning to achieve Approved Mental Health Professional status (with legal powers under the Mental Health Act) or further qualifications in evidence-based social interventions. If I choose to change my mind there are a range of options I can consider. These include children and family work, government policy, management - or another career entirely. I am, however, confident that my time with Think Ahead will provide me with the skills and connections to benefit me in whatever I decide.