It’s fresher’s week, you have attended the freshers fair, you pick up all sorts of bits and pieces and goodies, it’s all a bit overwhelming! You have probably spoken to people about different things & dependent on your likes & dislikes & your degree choice, different organisations & charities will be looking to offer volunteering placements alongside your studies or possible internships over the summer months or after graduation.
You didn’t expect to be confronted this early with such choice & what feels like huge responsibility. What you have to remember is that you don’t have to say yes to anything right away… you have just had a culture shock moving from a secondary school /sixth form college setting if you came straight from doing A-levels or equivalent. If you are a mature student and you are going back into education, again this maybe a shock to the system.
So when lectures start & the dreaded fresher flu etc, has passed, you are settling into your course, it maybe a good time to pull out some of that information from freshers week to see if you can find something that may fit or interest you.
My combined honours degree was in Community Practice & Sociology. Community Practice, was all about community regeneration, social policies that effect different groups of people, I was particularly interested & chose modules that focused on young people, crime & deviance, I did other modules; but the list is long 😊.
So I decided that I wanted to volunteer with The Youth Offending Team. This has to be one of the most eye opening & fulfilling things I had done in my life. I am so glad I got to work with young offenders, in the capacity of Appropriate Adult & Mentor. This meant meeting a young person in cell’s after they had been arrested. I would be called if their parent/guardian was unable to attend. I would ensure they were comfortable, had eaten & drank & had been able to be medicated if necessary. I would sit in on police interviews to ensure the young person was ok. Part of my volunteering role also included working on a one to one basis with offenders doing different things in order to try and prevent re-offending.
So why volunteer? This is your chance to have a positive impact on both the wider community & you as an individual. It gives you the opportunities to meet new people & to have fun whilst doing something different.
Volunteering will provide unique opportunities & it will help you to gain different skills & work experience that you may not have had the chance to experience before. For some it can also help influence the volunteer’s career path.
Reasons to volunteer, it is a positive way to enrich your degree. You can make a difference. It can boost employment prospects as it shows that you are reliable, can work independently as part of a team and show initiative. It is also & a powerful way to network in different groups of people, professionally, culturally & even spiritually.
Perspective employers are looking to see candidates who see themselves as a brand. Things like volunteering & internships boost your CV & show that you are reliable & have the practical communication & problem solving skills most employers are looking for. This also shows the transferable skills you have and will give you plenty to talk about in interviews.
Research found that most volunteers, formal and informal wanted to volunteer to improve situations & help people as well as giving something back to the community, whilst increasing confidence & gaining valuable & transferable skills. Whether you decide to set aside a certain block of time or volunteer infrequently depending on your schedule you are gaining experience with new people doing new things you may not have done before. Not only are the opportunities to volunteer during the holidays close to home some volunteering roles have the possibility of going further afield.
So to sum up there are endless opportunities for volunteering & it will be beneficial to both you as an individual and the community’ whilst helping each other to grow and gain new experiences. I would highly recommend volunteering, yes my volunteering context was a relatively serious role, but I met other volunteer’s who have become lifeline friends.