Embracing change – My journey of self-discovery as the Julia Anderson Programme Operations Trainee

In our blog series, we present the captivating stories of the fourth cohort of Julia Anderson trainees. As an impactful initiative at the Institute of Global Health Innovation (IGHI), the Julia Anderson Training Programme (JATP) provides people with little or no prior work experience with paid work experience.

For the first blog post of this series, we will share Rao’s story as the Programme Operations Trainee at IGHI, whose journey is about self-discovery and growth, transforming uncertainties into opportunities.


Rao Fu


About me: A Positive Lover of Life

I’m Rao, a non-typical Virgo with an ENFJ MBTI personality. Coming from Shijiazhuang, a vibrant city in Northern China known by its English nickname of ‘Rock Hometown,’ I’ve been lucky to grow up in a warm family with lots of support and love. My parents, who run two kindergartens catering to ages 3-7 in our hometown, have been my pillars of strength throughout my life. Despite their busy schedules, they never missed a single moment of my growth and always embraced positive parenting to encourage me to pursue my aspirations. The soulful melodies of Flamenco Guitar are my favourite, inspired by my dear dad who is crazy about flamenco. With my camera in hand, I love capturing fleeting moments and sharing my unique perspective with the world. Additionally, making deep connections with diverse people is also something I enjoy. As an active listener, I am inspired by others and love learning different perspectives.

Rao (right) with her mum (middle) and little sister (left), at Beijing Capital International Airport, China, August 2021

My Background as a Former Educator

I studied Preschool Education for my undergraduate degree and achieved a teaching qualification as an Early Years Teacher in China. With a longing for engaging with diverse cultures and wanting to study in the UK, I took the leap in 2019 to study for a Master’s degree in Educational Leadership and Policy at the University of Bristol. After a gap year in China, I flew back to the UK in the summer of 2021 to study the PGCE Primary Programme at UCL and explore the teacher training journey in the UK.

When my other classmates were busy submitting applications and preparing countless interviews to get into teaching, I made a surprising decision – not to be a primary teacher. Well, surprising to some, but clear to me: I was still exploring my other strong interests in other areas to better understand myself and wasn’t prepared to start a long-term career path as a teacher. So, how did I end up as Julia Anderson Programme Operations Trainee at IGHI?

My Application Journey towards the Julia Anderson Training Programme

Having noticed the Julia Anderson Training Programme Operations Trainee opportunity advertised on my university’s career website, I started researching the programme in more detail. I spent many hours looking through the website of IGHI and the JATP and decided that I wanted to be a part of the programme.

As an international graduate with little experience in the UK’s job market, I have gone through difficulties and setbacks in finding a job in the past year. Unlike other graduate schemes, not only does the JATP have a more inclusive, equitable and accessible recruiting system, they also have a strong commitment to supporting individuals in their early career development. For example, using an anonymous application form with three questions instead of uploading a CV helps to remove any potential bias. They also organise informative webinars for prospective applicants and shortlisted candidates. The recruitment team of JATP is also very helpful during the application process. If I had any questions, they always got back to me with helpful answers and advice.

You might be wondering, what attracted me to apply specifically for the Programme Operations role, since it’s not directly related to my studies. You might have guessed somehow – the first reason is the versatility of the role. As a recent international graduate without any extensive experience outside of teaching and education, I knew a career change wouldn’t be easy. At interviews, I was always asked “Why do you want to change careers?” And the only answer I could come up with was “I am not sure…”, so I knew I had to find a work experience that would allow me to engage in various tasks and expand my skillset.

“Perhaps it is only a small initiative for some, however, for a graduate who is struggling to get a first work experience in the UK, it has reignited my passion for the future, bringing me hope, courage and confidence to continue the pursuit of my aspirations.” — Rao


At the same time, I was also eager to kickstart my future in the UK and saw this opportunity as the perfect bridge to help me transition into new career paths. The trainee role would bring me hands-on experience and equip me with a wide range of skills in my interested areas (such as working in an office setting). More importantly, by working with such a multi-disciplinary team with professionals from diverse backgrounds, I could build and develop my networking connections, which would be a very valuable experience for me.

For most people, preparing the application and interview for their dream job is a nerve-wrecking process, and I feel the same. At the beginning, I didn’t put too many expectations on acing this role; instead, I spent my time trying to complete every task to the best of my ability. I focused on the process rather than the result. Therefore, when I received the call to offer me the role, I was completely surprised and couldn’t believe that I was going to embark on this journey.

Thriving in a Dynamic Role

As the Operations Trainee, there are a variety of tasks I will work on during my time at IGHI, and the blog post you are reading at the moment is one of them – as I am planning, writing and promoting a blog series for the JATP myself! In the following weeks, I will mainly be focusing on marketing the JATP, helping to recruit the next cohort and engaging in lots of other tasks related to the programme. I enjoy the work as every day is different. More importantly, I feel very lucky to have an incredibly supportive line manager, Sophie, who cares for me and is always there to offer help. Also, meeting and working with the other two trainees, Beatrice and CJ, has added much joy to my daily life. Overall, every colleague I meet and work with at IGHI has made my day.

I feel very lucky and grateful that I came across the Julia Anderson Training Programme at one of the most uncertain stages of my life. Perhaps it is only a small initiative for some, however, for a graduate who is struggling to get a first work experience in the UK, it has reignited my passion for the future, bringing me hope, courage and confidence to continue the pursuit of my aspirations.

Rao (the right) with the other two Julia Anderson Trainees of the fourth cohort, Beatrice (the left) and CJ (the middle left), as well as her line manager, Sophie (the middle right)
Rao (the right) with the other two Julia Anderson Trainees of the fourth cohort, Beatrice (the left) and CJ (the middle left), as well as her line manager, Sophie (the middle right)

Looking forwards

I have been asked many times why I decided to change career direction after having studied education for many years. On top of that, I often get asked what my future career aspirations are. Truth be told… I can’t give a straight answer and it is something I am lucky enough to explore as part of the training programme. I have many interests, and this role gives me the opportunity to develop these further.

When I was 18, standing at the crossroad of my life for the first time and thinking about which subject I was going to learn at university, I was unsure about my next step. Now, in my mid-twenties, I am at another turning point in my life. I have realised that a brilliant career path is not the destination, but a life-long journey where I can continuously improve myself. It’s all about ourselves – what kind of person do we want to be in the future and to achieve it, how can we get there?


This is the first of an exciting blog series where we’ll be sharing the unique stories of other Julia Anderson Programme trainees. Next week, get ready to be inspired by Beatrice’s extraordinary journey towards becoming the Julia Anderson Helix Centre Trainee. Stay tuned for more captivating stories as the series continues! 

Find out more about the Julia Anderson Training Programme (JATP).


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