This guest post was written by Neelam Shah, a Kingston University student studying Journalism with Media and Cultural Studies. Neelam shares her top tips on volunteering and where to find those opportunities that will give students and young people a chance to help out in the community and meet new people whilst gaining experience to put on that all important CV.
With youth unemployment hitting a record of around 1.6 million, queues outside job centres are increasing and university graduates are leaving with fewer prospects of finding their ultimate dream jobs. The prime minister’s new initiative to get approximately 500,000 work experience/internship or apprenticeship placements for the unemployed 18-24s in 2015 is in debate with some feeling skeptical about the government’s initiative and whether companies would hire.
Well the question is what shall young people do in the meantime, sit at home and be bored or consider other ways to gain experience, skills without a salary to start with. Volunteering is considered the best aid for job hunters with employers looking for people who have gained new skills, experiences in working for charities, organisations and social enterprises because it shows real initiative and entrepreneurial flair.
Volunteering isn’t just for the retired, people of any age can contribute little or as much as they like to their local communities, boroughs, or internationally by taking on a suitable voluntary role. If you are 18 and have decided to take a gap year, then travelling abroad and working for a charity is great experience, even volunteering in the UK is fantastic as there are many organisations just waiting for new hands to help out.
Here are my top five tips for finding volunteering work that suits your needs:
- Research organisations in your area that you would like to volunteer for and that you think would help you with your specialised career choice
- If you are in full time education and looking for some general practical customer related experience over the weekend, contact local charity/fundraising shops, which are sure to increase your employment prospects. For more info on how to locate charity shops, apply etc. check with Charity Retail Association
- If you are a traveller, why not look for opportunities or projects that you find meets your needs/interests in that country? Check out Do-it for details on volunteering opportunities abroad and in the UK
- If you are a sporty person, ask your favourite charity whether they’ve got any fundraising events coming up and you could take part in a marathon, hiking challenge, bike ride, canoe trip, triathlon etc. Or you could volunteer at adventure holidays with charities like The Newman Holiday Trust
- There are many flexible voluntary roles within the public sector available such as fundraising, marketing, advertising, admin, web design, finance, accounting, drama, dance, music, filming, writing, painting, mentoring, assistant teacher, youth worker etc. Check out Vinspired, a UK based voluntary organisation open for 14-25 yr olds, to get involved with any projects/opportunities on any interests, anywhere in the UK.
If you want to try something new, want to put your hobby or interest into practice, meet new people, gain practical working experience, something great to add to your CV then why not give volunteering a go.
February 20-26 is Student Volunteering Week which is a great initiative with loads of events taking place all over the UK – have a look and see what goes on in your town and how you can get involved. You can also search for volunteering opportunities via the links we’ve listed here, or you could microvolunteer in your own time on some of the new projects over on Bright Works. Happy volunteering – and do let us know about your own volunteering experiences, we love a good inspiring story!