Throughout my time at University, I have participated in many volunteering opportunities. These range from working in a secondary school teaching children literacy skills to helping the elderly with computer skills (even though I barely know my way around an excel spread sheet myself, but nobody needs to know that…). Even though this may not be your “thing”, I wanted to explain to you how accepting a volunteering opportunity may be the best thing you do all semester.
It is a worthwhile way to spend your time.
Looking for a way to fill your time? Look no further, I have you covered. I don’t know about yours, but my University offers so many volunteering opportunities that range in time length to suit everyone. For instance, the work I did in schools lasted pretty much the whole day. But volunteering with the elderly only took up my Wednesday afternoon each week. There genuinely is something out there to suit everyone, you just need to discover it. I promise you, it’s as easy as booking an appointment at your careers office or having a quick search around on the internet.
I found my volunteering activities a great way to give back to the community. You know that nice, warm feeling you get when you help someone? My work with the elderly definitely made me feel that. It was so nice to sit and chat with Jean, my elderly mentee, and hear all about her marriage and her random experiences in China in 1970…
Overall, volunteering was, and still is, a great way to escape the pressures and stress that a degree can sometimes bring. We all need some downtime, right?
It can add to your CV.
With all that time you have now filled, volunteering can also be a huge CV boost. It can provide you with skills invaluable to any job application in the future. Although it may sound obvious, getting to your volunteering in time can, of course, teach you the value of time management. For instance, if you are working in a school, getting to the class in time is totally essential, you cannot be late. Additionally, volunteering can help you to develop those all singing, all dancing communication skills. Think of all the people you will meet and interact with, all with different needs and requirements. You might have somebody important who you report to, the actual people you interact with and those you meet during volunteering. All these kind of people you will react with differently and communicate different things to. Congrats, you have now learned how to communicate effectively. Go you!
You will meet lots of new people.
This brings me nicely onto my third and final point: the amount of people you can meet while volunteering. People sometimes think that volunteering can be a bit lonely at times. But I have honestly found it to be one of the most social things to do while at uni, especially if you chose to do a group volunteering project. For instance, while volunteering at a secondary school in first year I volunteered with some of the same girls who were in my modules and I became really good friends with them. I honestly think that volunteering is one of the best way to meet new people. It really helped me in freshers when I knew nobody on my course and was trying to find like minded people (call me a try-hard but still…).
Volunteering can be as flexible as you want it to be. Sometimes it’s as simple as giving a couple of hours of your free time up. It encourages you to meet, and interact with, new people. Overall, you have nothing to lose. Have a go this semester and see what happens. I promise, you won’t regret it! My best advice, as always, would be: you won’t know unless you try.
Harriet studies English Literature at the University of Nottingham and writes a weekly column focusing on graduate employment.