Tuesday, 1 October 2013

My Insight to Volunteering at Reading

Katy Ashford - Community & Development Officer
Statistics recently released by the Institute for Volunteering Research reveal that... ‘87% of employers think that volunteering can have a generally positive effect on career progression for people aged 16-25’

I think we can all agree that this is a statistic hard to ignore. I think it’s also safe to assume that we all come to University to increase our chances of getting employed, but the question is, what is going to make you stand out from the crowd? What’s going to give you that competitive edge?

Of course, your degree is central and it would be foolish to think that being a volunteer is going to guarantee you a job. But being seen as a volunteer tells potential employers about your character, your motivation, initiative, creativity and reliability. Volunteering will also provide you with a wealth of experiences to draw on in interviews - which hopefully illustrates why you're the best person for the job.

Let’s take two hypothetical English Language students (I chose this subject purely on the basis that I studied it) apply for the same graduate scheme at a large company. Both students have 2:1s, their applications show they have done some research into the company and they both sell themselves impeccably. The big difference is, one of the students demonstrates a much wider 'university experience': President of a sports club, Course Rep and Community Volunteer. It's a no brainer, it's obvious who gets the job! But I think the reason why I rave on so much about volunteering is the self satisfaction you can gain from it. Granted it might not be the ‘coolest’ activity you may ever participate in – when I was digging weeds in the snow at a local primary school after a somewhat latish night, there were several moments when I did contemplate my reasoning as to why I thought it would be a good idea. But seeing the final result, and knowing I helped create a memorial for parents that
some of the children had recently lost, I realised it was probably the ‘nicest’ activity I could ever be part of. I got the same feeling when I served food to a homeless man or just had a cup of tea and a chat with a local elderly resident.

RUSU offers so many different opportunities for you to get involved with - from picking vegetables in the Secret Garden to being a team leader in the Romanian challenge. Even if you think you might not be able to spare much time, there are loads of one-off opportunities to get involved in and it all starts with our Big Volunteering Weekend on the 12th and 13th October.

Come along and meet us at the very first Volunteering Fayre TODAY, 11.00am to 3.00pm or for more information, don’t hesitate to get in touch by emailing volunteer@reading.ac.uk

I really hope to see you soon.

Best wishes,
Katy Ashford
RUSU Community and Development Officer

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