Friday, 17 February 2012

Don’t think volunteering is for you?

Would you spend at least three years at university writing essays, attending 9am seminars and toiling away in the library if you weren't going to wear a silly hat at the end of it all, shake the Vice Chancellor’s hand and most importantly, be awarded a degree? The answer, for most of you I imagine, is no. Just like you probably wouldn't particularly enjoy working till the early hours in 3sixty and not getting paid for your hard work.
Some of you might be thinking that this is exactly what volunteers do…work for no pay.
I am hoping Student Volunteering Week will change that view…
English: A KAMS student gives back to the comm...
Image via Wikipedia
Volunteering can be picking up litter or sorting clothes in a charity shop but it can also involve running boat trips for the Kennett and Avon Canal Trust or helping the police train sniffer dogs! RUSU’s volunteering policy for a start ensures that you will never be working to replace paid staff. The charities and community groups attending the volunteering fayre are all really in need of your support and volunteering can give you so much more than something to pad out your CV.
So, to help persuade those of you who aren’t too keen, take a look at the top reasons to volunteer below:
  • Recent research shows that those who volunteer to help others (as opposed to themselves i.e. not for personal gain), live longer than those who don’t volunteer
  • Develop a new skill – learn to produce music at a local youth centre, become an expert cake maker working with residents at Lakeside Care Home…many volunteering opportunities also provide training in counselling, public speaking, first aid - all of which benefit you
  • Meet people in the community! Escape the bubble of campus and meet a whole new range of people, some of whom may become good friends. Volunteering can be a very sociable activity and a great insight to the way different people live 
  • English: Curriculum Vitae
    Image via Wikipedia
    Sense of achievement – There are opportunities to get awards from both the University and Students’ Union and your volunteering can also go towards the RED Award. But more than that, volunteering gives you that warm fuzzy feeling inside. It sounds cheesy, but if you help give a child the confidence to fling themselves down a slide at an adventure park or help Cancer Research fundraise in Reading town centre you will feel a great sense of personal satisfaction 
  • It does boost your career opportunities! A survey carried out by TimeBank through Reed Executive showed that among 200 of the UK’s leading businesses:
    • 73% of employers would recruit a candidate with volunteering experience over one without
    • 94% of employers believe that volunteering can add to skills 
    • 94% of employees who volunteered to learn new skills had benefited either by getting their first job, improving their salary, or being promoted
You can draw upon your volunteering to answer all sorts of questions in job interviews: tell us about a time you worked as a team… (the perfect question for many volunteers!)
  • New interests, opportunities and experiences! You never know, by helping on a sports project coaching children with disabilities, you may find that you actually really enjoy badminton and end up playing socially on a regular basis. Through your volunteering you could travel abroad and even meet celebrities – like our Duke of Edinburgh Society who even got to meet royalty as a result of their volunteering! 
Take a look at this Guardian article about other University students and their volunteering. Get involved, escape the student bubble and immerse yourself in the culture you live in! 

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