WHY VOLUNTEERING AT UNIVERSITY INCREASES YOUR EMPLOYABILITY
With the graduate job market more competitive than ever, getting involved in activities outside of your lecture theatres and course textbooks can be the key to success. Employers love to see extracurricular experience on your CV and being able to give real-life examples in response to interview questions will set you ahead of the game.
But how do you gain high quality experience without going through a competitive application process? How can you be sure that it will fit around your studies, your social life and a part-time job? And how can you find an opportunity where you can have fun, make friends and make a difference all at the same time?
The answer is simple: volunteer.
Direct experience There are countless voluntary roles out there where you can develop skills in numerous areas from marketing to IT, from events management to childcare. With just a bit of research, you can find a role directly linked to your career aspirations. Want to become a counsellor in the future? Charities like Samaritans recruit ‘Listening Volunteers’ to take calls on their helpline from people going through a hard time. Is your goal is to work in the financial sector? Student union societies each require a treasurer where you will be handling money and keeping the financial records up to date. Having experience related to the roles you are applying for will be invaluable in your job hunt after university.
Transferable Skills Even if your volunteering role doesn’t completely match your career aspirations, gaining experience beyond your degree course still improves your employability. Volunteering demonstrates to potential employers that you have transferable skills such as time management and that you are a driven candidate who has had the initiative to make the most of your time at university. It also allows your personality to shine through and tells recruiters that you are dedicated to causes that you really care about. This will help you in job applications, no matter what industry you are looking to break in to.
Finding your direction Not sure what type of job you want after university? Volunteering can be a fantastic way to figure out what you really enjoy and what types of jobs you want to apply for after graduation. You might become the social secretary for your sports society and realise that planning events would be your dream job or maybe you’ll spend time as a peer mentor and discover your passion lies in careers coaching! Volunteering is flexible way to test the waters of a particular job role to see if it really is the path for you.
Making the Most of Volunteering It is important to volunteer for the right reasons and take part because you genuinely care not just because you want it on your CV. Signing up to volunteer but only being half-heartedly involved will be detrimental to the organisation and will also stop you from getting the most out of the experience. Stay professional and make sure you leave a positive impression. Through volunteering, you can meet new people and make a change in your community. It is also a flexible way to gain experience without impacting on your studies and other commitments.
Convinced? Here are some key ways to search for your perfect volunteer role now:
Reach Volunteering: Create a profile and find an opportunity that matches your skills!
Do-it.org: Search by location to find opportunities near you! You can also narrow down your search use filters such as availability and causes you are passionate about. Your University: Search your Students Union website and social media pages to find out different ways you can get involved, from being on a society committee to helping out with RAG events. You can also contact your university’s career service to get advice on volunteering opportunities.
By Lizzie Connolly