Connie Basnett tells us why students should volunteer.
Volunteering positions range from working aboard, to working for charities or for the local community. Some students worry that volunteering can take away from their studies or they just prefer to concentrate on getting paid work. The national volunteering charity Timebank carried out research on exactly how volunteering helps students, they found that almost three quarters of the UK’s top businesses prefer to recruit candidates with volunteering experience. So what’s stopping you?
My own experience of volunteering has definitely benefited me massively. I’ve been volunteering at Aston Hall since the start of June for one day a week. Aston Hall is one of Birmingham’s most historic buildings and is Grade I listed Jacobean house. It’s run by the Birmingham Museums Trust which runs a number of different sites across Birmingham, including the art gallery and the jewellery quarter.
I chose to volunteer at Aston for the valuable experience and the chance to work in a place completely different to anywhere else I have worked. Studying history and politics I wanted to work somewhere relevant to my degree and I found it hard to find anything local or paid, but Aston hall offered the perfect place.
[Image credit: Connie Basnett]
The hall is rich with historical significance, it’s great to work in such an amazing place and be surrounded by such fascinating artwork, artefacts and architecture. By only working one day a week I benefited from the advantages of working at Aston, whilst being able to get a part time job over the summer so I wasn’t out of pocket.
Volunteering has also put me in contact with people in other areas I want to experience. After telling Aston Hall I was interested in getting more involved they put in touch with someone at the Think-tank, a science museum in Birmingham. They were looking for people to work on their spitfire exhibition which centres on how the airplanes contributed to WW2. They recommended me for the position and now I do alternative weeks at both sites, so I’m not overloaded. Other volunteers who were interested in curating were put in touch with curators at Birmingham museum and art gallery to talk about opportunities for when they graduate.
The NUS published a study in 2014 which showed that 31 per cent of students contribute significant amounts of their spare time to volunteering, volunteering an average of 44 hours per year. This then contributes around £175 million a year to the UK economy. At a time when graduates face one of the toughest job markets for more than a decade, along with the added pressure of paying off student loans, students need more than just their academic degree to stand out from the competition and volunteering provides the perfect opportunity.
Andrea Grace Rannard, Head of Student Volunteering at Volunteering England emphasises the benefits of volunteering in terms of skills development and improving your chances of getting hired, “Volunteering is a savvy use of an individual’s time, valued by employers. Volunteering provides an insight into a profession and a company, allows an Individual to build confidence in a role, develop or enhance relevant skills, generate useful contacts that can offer “insider” knowledge”.
Volunteering is two way street for employers and students, it only takes a quick email to enquire about various positions and can greatly benefit yourself and your CV for when you graduate. So what’s stopping you?
By Connie Basnett
[Image Credit: Brianac37]