Getting to know .. Julia Bandel

After 18 months at HOS, Communications & Engagement Officer, Julia, is moving on to pastures new! She spoke to Robbie, one of our volunteers, about her time at HOS as part of our “Getting to know ..” series.

Can you tell me a bit about yourself and your role at HOS

“I’m Julia Bandel, I’m the Communications and Engagement Officer and I joined Housing Options Scotland in 2020, right in the middle of the pandemic! I found out about the role through Ben Parker, who I knew before working with HOS. We had been talking about jobs and he followed up a week later with this job opportunity.

As for my background before starting at HOS: I’m originally from Germany, moved here to study Geography and History at Edinburgh University in 2016, now I’ve moved on to a part-time Master’s in Public Policy. I already had an interest in disability and housing, so the idea of helping vulnerable people at HOS was something I was interested in.”

Can you give me a summary of your time at HOS?

“When I started working for HOS, my job title was Volunteering and Engagement Assistant, so that was much more focused on the volunteering side of things. I was working with Ben at the time and we were splitting social media work half-and-half.

Eventually, Ben got busier, and because I was quite good at social media and comms, I was more than happy to take on managing the social media as part of my job. In spring 2021, my role changed to Communications and Engagement Officer and I started doing all of the social media.”

What has been your favourite thing about working at HOS?

“I’ve really enjoyed how creative my job has been. You get to do some writing; you get to do some graphic design too. It’s one of those jobs where having a lot of creativity and playing around with things is really encouraged.

I’ve also found working at HOS quite versatile. I don’t like doing the same thing over-and-over again, so being able to switch between volunteer engagement, dealing with social media and creating area guides has kept everything fresh.”

What has your greatest achievement been, while working at HOS?

“Starting out at HOS in 2020, we didn’t have a comms strategy at the time; there was no social media strategy; there was no brand guidelines; our website even had a different colour scheme from the logo. I’ve managed to get all of those things sorted and provided a solid set of guidelines, so that whoever replaces me can easily integrate into the role.”

If you could choose one word to describe your time at HOS, what would it be and why?

“The word I would use to describe my time at HOS would be ‘fun’! I’ve had a really good time here. Outside of work, I have a lot of stressful things going on like University and political volunteering, which can be quite challenging. Working days have almost been like a break from all of those stressful tasks because communications does come quite easily to me.

It’s nice to come into HOS and play around with Canva, design stuff for social media and chat to the rest of the team and our volunteers. So much of my job satisfaction comes from our staff group chat!”

What has working at HOS taught you?

“I think the biggest lesson I’ve learned – and one of the most challenging things I’ve had to adjust to – is the Scottish culture. I’m German and for the last four years of University, I’ve largely stuck to my friend group of international students; we all have very different cultures. When I started at HOS, I quickly learned that everyday is a learning day, in terms of Scottish culture. There’s been moments where I’m like, “What’s that? I’ve never heard of that!”

In terms of communicating, Germans are quite blunt and straight to the point, so one of the most challenging aspects, for me, has been toning that down in the professional environment. I think people in Scotland are a lot more polite than we are! It’s all about figuring out those cultural differences in communication.”

What are your plans after leaving HOS?

“I’m running for Council in the Inverleith Ward in Edinburgh. Hopefully I’ll get elected, but if not, my Uni dissertation will keep me busy for a while. One of my key manifesto policies is housing, which was something that became important to me after hearing so many client stories at HOS. It’s been very moving.”

You can read more about our staff here.