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The Chartered Institute of Housing is the independent voice for housing and the home of professional standards

'Rising Stars gave me a foothold in my career, don't think about it, do it!'


With just a few weeks to go to enter CIH and Inside Housing’s Rising Stars competition we spoke to last year’s winner Alice Smith, who recently joined CIH as our new business development manager, to find out about her experiences of the competition and what has happened since.

How did you hear about Rising Stars?

At the time I was working as a Neighbourhood Housing Officer with Sovereign Housing Association. I actually saw an advert for it in Inside Housing and I thought it looked like a brilliant opportunity to take part in something which would be a great experience and would help me take my career to the next level.

I just thought it would stretch me and get me involved in things I hadn’t done in my career. I was in a place where I wanted to progress and this seemed like a perfect opportunity to add to my experience and mark myself out as a housing professional.

What did you think of the process?

It was great and really simple to enter. I made my application and then some weeks later got a call to say I’d made the final four. I was so pleased!

As a finalist you take part in a series of tasks which in themselves are a fantastic experience.

The first was a Twitter Q&A which was really interesting and lots of people in housing took part – from chief execs to frontline housing staff.

I then had to deliver a presentation and work with young people as part of the GEM programme, to give my ideas on how to make housing a career of choice. It was really inspiring to spend time with the next generation of housing professionals and get the opportunity to talk about my experience and impart some knowledge.

Finally I took part in an ethics interview with some key housing figures. This was a bit daunting but another great thing to do because it really challenges you to think about how you approach things.

How did you find out you’d won and how did you feel?

The Rising Stars winner is announced at the Housing Heroes ceremony at CIH’s Housing conference. I can honestly say I really didn’t expect to win. I was just thrilled to have been a finalist and to have had the experience of taking part.

When they read my name out I couldn’t believe it. I was so pleased. It was just the icing on the cake really.

What has winning done for you?

It has done so much. First of all taking part in the tasks and being a part of the competition has really boosted my confidence and made me realise what I can achieve.

It took me out of my comfort zone and pushed me to do things I didn’t think I could do. There was also a really nice camaraderie with the other finalists throughout the process. It was competitive, but in a respectful and professional way, and I really valued that.

I also met so many people who I otherwise wouldn’t have been able to meet - from key influencers to inspiring young people - so it has been great for expanding my networks.

And it has really given me a foothold in my career and boosted my profile. I really don’t think I would be at CIH now if I hadn’t taken part in Rising Stars.

What would your advice be to anyone considering entering?

Don’t waste time thinking about it, just do it! It’s free and really simple to enter; you have nothing to lose and everything to gain!

You can enter Rising Stars until Friday February 17.

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