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10 top tips to get you started

Working on a laptop

  1. Think about how much time you can give remember we don’t recommend above 20 hours a week during term time. Alternatively, you may prefer to volunteer during vacations. Would you prefer a regular weekly session or a block placement? Work out what is best for you.
  2. Look at the links on the What opportunities are there? page to generate ideas or read the local papers to find out about community projects locally. The Reading Chronicle is the local paper although for north of the River see the Henley Standard. The Wokingham Times is helpful for East Reading and beyond.
  3. In order to get the right volunteers, organisations will still interview you to see what motivates you to help them, what skills or experience you can bring and identify any training you may need or what responsibilities you could undertake. So you may need to prepare answers to these questions in advance.
  4. If you are offered a chance to volunteer but are not sure if it is right for you, see if you can do a taster day as this may help you to decide. This would be helpful both for you and the organisation in question.
  5. Don’t forget to select a project that you can access by public transport or see if there are any opportunities to lift share if the organisation is in a remote area. Obviously, if you have a car then you will have greater choice. Some organisations may be able to contribute to your subsistence costs.
  6. Learn by listening and observing others take this opportunity to contribute but find out why things are done in certain ways, once you have gained credibility with your peers, start to make suggestions on alternative ways of doing things. You will make greater impact by treading carefully and long term this will enable you to make a difference.
  7. Don’t panic if there is a considerable wait between being offered the chance to help and being given a starting date as Police Checks can take a long time to process.
  8. Monitor your own progress in terms of the experience you are gaining, skills you are developing and networks you are generating. Look at how this is shaping you as a person and how this volunteering is influencing your career plans. www.windmillsonline.co.uk contains useful interactive career and life management tools.
  9. Make sure you fully articulate the skills and experience gained when targeting your CV towards further experience or graduate employment, www.jobhuntersbible.com may also assist with this task. .
  10. Meeting new people, making a difference, learning about different career paths all helps to boost self confidence so make the most of this opportunity which also includes having fun.

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