Life at university can sometimes be a bit of a bubble: surrounded by your friends, studying and partying and not having a care in the world. All of these things are really important to uni life and are a key reason why it’s so enjoyable. But do you ever feel like something’s missing? Then maybe you should try volunteering as Isla did at the local foodbank. Here are her top 4 reasons why you should volunteer too…
1. Helping your community
It has been so beneficial to get myself out of everyday uni life, forming links with the community outside Warwick, to help support those who need it the most. To know you are making a positive impact on the lives of others is one of the most rewarding things in the world. That might sound really contrived but I promise you, it’s true! I’ve been able to support some of the most vulnerable people in the area, even if it’s just with a friendly face, a cup of tea and a warm space to have a chat. It’s great to see these people leave feeling a bit better and with a new-found sense of dignity. I’ve grown in confidence and have transferable skills I can take to an employer like teamwork, effective communication and resilience. I’ve made so many friends from all sorts of backgrounds whilst volunteering and I know these friendships will last a lifetime.
2. Having time away from studying
We all know how important it is to take a break from studying now and again, so why not devote your free time to something positive? It feels great that my spare time is being put to good use. If anything, it actually makes me work harder for my degree as I have to manage my time effectively and make sure I’m organised: a yellow sticky note and I are now the best of friends for a daily list, with each hour devoted to a set activity. I also write EVERYTHING down in my diary to make sure I know exactly what I’m doing and when. Having a ‘break’ from studying by volunteering often makes me look back on my essays with a renewed sense of vigour.
3. Looking to the future
If however, you don’t wish to take a break from studying, who’s to say that you can’t volunteer and study at the same time?! I was so inspired by the work that the foodbank do, that I decided to write my undergrad dissertation on it, carrying out research in the field. I did an ethnographic study over three months in a foodbank looking at communication between volunteers and clients, which was quite stressful at the time but is my proudest achievement yet. This way, I never felt guilty about being away from my desk – volunteering was my desk! I was writing field notes whilst I was there and as soon as I got home I’d be writing journal entries about what had happened that day. From my experience, dissertation supervisors love it when the research you are doing has a real impact on others, so researching in collaboration with a charity may get you some extra brownie points!
4. Volunteering for work experience
Looking even further ahead, you’ve probably heard it a million times but it’s true: volunteering looks great on your CV. You’re able to show potential recruiters that you’ve dedicated your time to help your community, whilst studying whilst being involved in all the other societies you’re involved with. It shows a willingness to work, time management skills and an effective contribution to society. The more work or voluntary experience you have, the easier it becomes to answer those dreaded behavioural questions like ‘describe a time when you….’ or ‘give me an example when…’ – questions which employers LOVE to ask.
So, what’s stopping you from volunteering? Warwick Volunteers offer so many different kinds of volunteering opportunities – whether it’s helping the elderly with computers or clearing woodland, whether you can give a couple of hours a week or only on occasion, there’s bound to be something for you.
Go on, give it a go! You’ve got nothing to lose…