One of the most well learned lessons that I took away from University is that making the most of the opportunities and support available to you could be crucial for deciding your fate as a graduate. Sadly, many students don’t recognize the importance of fully utilizing their time at University until after they’ve left and are struggling to find work. In the current labour market you can never have enough experience and volunteering is a brilliant way to develop extra skills to boast about on your CV.
“But I need to focus on my degree” I hear you cry! Well think about this, when you graduate you will be one of around 350,000 leavers with a degree, and with 52 graduates on average applying for each job how will you stand out from the crowd? Having the initiative to take on extra responsibilities can help to set you apart from others, and employers will value someone who’s not afraid of going that extra mile. Still not convinced? Below I’ve listed just a handful of the benefits of volunteering.
Explore New Career Paths
If you are currently studying and are unsure as to what you want to do after University then volunteering allows you to explore potential career paths and develop an idea of the types of working environments that suit you. Even better, you may get the chance to do something that you love or maybe even discover a new passion! What is more, when you’re trying to oversell yourself on job applications, nothing says “I LOVE TEACHING” (or other appropriate job) more than the fact that you’ll happily do it for free in your spare time!
Gain a Professional Reference
This is particularly true if you have had little work experience and struggle to find suitable references to endorse the skills that you have gained during University. Volunteering gives you the opportunity to boast about your skills and dedication, particularly if the experience is relevant to your chosen industry. In fact, it could even be a deal breaker for employers when they’re sifting through hundreds of applications from students and graduates in the same position as you.
Moving back in with your parents after University and generally just having little purpose to your days can be pretty depressing. You get up each morning, mope around in your pj’s – let’s face it, there’s absolutely no point in getting dressed this week as you haven’t got anywhere to go – and then apply for as many jobs as possible before your self-esteem starts to dwindle. When you start to structure your days around daily episodes of ‘Homes under the Hammer’ then it’s time for action. Volunteering can provide structure to your week, help to lift your spirits and most importantly will give you a break from watching endless episodes of Jeremy Kyle.
It’s not about what you know; it’s who you know. Developing as many contacts as possible whilst at University may determine how easily you enter your chosen career as a graduate. Don’t know anybody who works in the area that you’re interested in? Then expand your professional network by volunteering. You can use these contacts wisely to advertise yourself and ensure that you are the first person in mind when that perfect opportunity arises. What is more, if a position becomes available in the company that you volunteer for then you could be first in line for an interview. Employers will feel an increased confidence when hiring somebody who they have witnessed applying their passion and skills in the workplace.
Where can I Find Voluntary Placements?
Coventry University Volunteering and Employability department offer a wealth of community-based local opportunities for students. Whether you want to commit lots of your time or just work an hour a week, the placements are generally flexible so no matter how busy your schedule you can fit them around your studies. For more information visit: http://www.cusu.org/volunteering_employability/volunteeringopportunities.
Why not come along to the Volunteering fair on Monday 11th February on the ground floor of the Hub at 11am-2pm where there will be a huge range of organisations offering placements in all areas!
If you would like to speak to a careers adviser about your options then you can book an appointment by calling the Careers and Add+vantage Service on 02477652011.