Volunteering is an excellent way to help you make the most of your University experience. Whether you have a few hours to spare in the week or only have time to give at the weekends, there will always be a wide range of volunteering opportunities available.
These could range from one-off events through to those with a longer term commitment. Depending on the type of opportunity, there may be a set application procedure that you need to follow – this means that you may not always be able to start straight away.
You also have the chance to make speculative applications this would be ideal if you have a particular role in mind, or know exactly the kind of organisation that you would like to help (make sure to include any previous experience – should you have it - and what specifically you can offer).
When deciding on an opportunity, make sure you think about what you enjoy doing as well as what will be good for your own development. Whilst some roles will require specific skills, this shouldn’t always stop you from applying, as many organisations will encourage you to develop your skills and may be able to train you in areas where you have no previous knowledge.
The benefits of volunteering and how it can help your career
Employers will view volunteering as just as valuable as paid work and this means that it will be as equally valid on your CV. In a recent Higher Education Academy report ‘The UK Engagement Survey 2017: Student participation and skills gain’, the kind of positive impact that volunteering can have is highlighted:
“Volunteering has a positive impact across several skills areas such as career skills, speaking and understanding real-world problems… it is significant that the data points towards volunteering in many cases having more of a rounded skills benefit [than working for pay]. A potential inference from this is that students who work for pay while at university are often in lower skilled jobs…”
Volunteering can help you in the following ways:
Experience: gain relevant experience for your CV and a range of real-life examples to use at interview. A great way to test out career areas and presents an opportunity to get a reference for a future job.
Skills Development: can include skills such as communication, time-management and problem solving etc. Volunteering can also help to demonstrate your commitment, increase your confidence and is a great way to show responsibility. You will also get the chance to learn more about yourself.
Complements your Degree: bridges the gap between education and the world of work.
Networking: get the chance to meet new people and make new friends. Find out more about the community where you live/study. Opportunity to develop relevant contacts for the future.
Training and Development: could offer an opportunity to attend training courses. These may be project specific or more generic, for example a first aid course. This additional training may prove useful when applying for jobs and could help you to stand out from the crowd.
Make a positive impact on the local community
As well as the benefits that volunteering can have for you personally, it can also have a positive impact on the local community.