Throughout Student Volunteering Week (SVW), colleges and universities across the country are holding events to celebrate the contribution and impact of student volunteers. SVW is not just about celebrating the work of student volunteers. It is also an opportunity to encourage others to get involved in too.
Putting to one side all the obvious good that comes from giving up your time to help others, what can volunteering offer you — and how can you get involved?
Why start volunteering?
There are loads of great reasons to get stuck in to volunteering, regardless of your age or what you’re doing in your life. For students, though, volunteering can offer the opportunity to develop skills that can be applied to both life as a student and beyond.
Leaving university without bags of work experience can make it difficult when you find yourself looking for work. This is why volunteering as a student is a fantastic way to strengthen your CV, providing you with invaluable experience and situations to call upon in interviews and demonstrate your skills and employability. A survey undertaken by the NCCPE found that over 50% of graduates under 30 in paid work thought that volunteering at university helped them to get a job.
Below are a few skills that volunteering can help you develop which can be applied to both your professional and personal life:
- Communication skills – no matter what field you choose to enter, having good communication skills is an invaluable asset. You can develop these skills through volunteering as you interact with such a diverse range of people from different walks of life.
- Teamwork – an essential aspect of volunteering is working collaboratively to get things done with other people. Volunteering will often mean having to work together with people from different backgrounds who you probably won’t have met before, and being able to work collaboratively in these situations is very important. Being a student often means working on your own a lot, while volunteering gives you space to work with others which is both fun and rewarding.
- Confidence – confidence can be difficult to develop; however, volunteering is a fantastic way to gain confidence in yourself and your abilities. Imagine you start volunteering at a community garden, you will soon be able to see the benefits of your work which you will give you instant pride and satisfaction. Volunteering is also a great way to meet and interact with new people, which can also have a positive impact on your mental health and wellbeing.
- Organisational skills – it’s no big secret that organisation is an immeasurably important skill in whatever direction you want to take in your life. Volunteering while you’re still a student can help you become more organised. If you were to volunteer in a charity shop, for example, you’ll need to be organised to keep track of stock and incoming donations. Also, when you come to apply for jobs, volunteering experience is a great way to demonstrate to employers that you have good organisational skills.
There is also the added bonus that if you don’t know what you want to do after you finish studying, volunteering gives you exposure to a range of new sectors, and you might even find something you want to do as a career.
How can I get involved with volunteering?
If you haven’t volunteered before, Student Volunteering Week is a great place to start. Over the course of the week, universities and colleges across the country will be holding events where you can discover more about what you can do to help your local community through your university.
There are so many charities out there looking for volunteers, and you can take this opportunity to really make a difference and have a positive impact.
If you are interested in finding out more about volunteering as a student, why not chat to people at your university who volunteer and ask them about their experience and how they first started volunteering.
If your university or college doesn’t offer any volunteering opportunities, but you still want to give it a go, use our Charity Finder to discover some of the amazing charities working in your community and contact them to enquire about any potential volunteering opportunities.