Volunteering is awesome and if you’re a student you should really think about getting involved – particularly if you’re finding that your studies aren’t taking up too much of your time (looking at you Freshers!). Here are ten reasons why you should consider lending a hand and sparing some of your time to volunteer…
1) It’s quick and simple! Volunteering opportunities are abundant and can be found via various sources. Most Universities operate volunteer programs within the local community so check out your student union or volunteering societies to see what’s on offer. Alternatively, pop in to a volunteer centre or use online databases such as vinspired.com and do-it.org. These websites make it really easy to find projects in your area and relating to your interests.
2) It’s flexible! Many students are put off volunteering through fear of the time commitment it will require. However, by exploring the available opportunities you’ll quickly discover that there are various levels of commitment required – from one day a week or even a fortnight to more frequent opportunities. Some may only require an afternoon or a couple of hours. So instead of spending your afternoon off watching Jeremy Kyle, why not devote that time to something both beneficial and worthwhile?
3) There are so many opportunities on offer. When you think volunteering, your mind may immediately spring to folding clothes in a charity shop or litter picking. However, volunteering has become diverse and exciting and there are a wide range of places which need your help. Large scale events, small businesses, community projects etc often require extra helpers and will advertise for assistance in volunteer centres and on online databases.
4) New people, new skills, new experiences – Volunteering is a fantastic way to broaden your horizons, make new friends and contacts, learn something new and make good use of your time and skills.
5) It looks awesome on your CV – There are many ways to boost your CV and win employers over; however, volunteering experience packs an extra punch in the sense that it demonstrates motivation and an ability to seek out your own opportunities and to contribute time and effort to a worthy cause.
6) Volunteering can be relevant to your degree/career – Building upon my previous point, volunteering is an excellent way to improve your future career chances and impress potential employers. We all know that work experience and internships can be fiercely competitive and difficult to obtain so why not try to build your experience in other ways by making use of voluntary opportunities? For instance, volunteering with the Citizens Advice Bureau is a great way for Law students to get experience in an advisory environment while those hoping to go into teaching can find voluntary projects working with children highly beneficial.
7) Volunteering provides a much needed breath of fresh air – University life is fun, yet there are times when stress kicks in and we need a break from the usual routine. Volunteering can provide this. It gets you out of the lecture theatre and away from your studies, even if only for a short time.
8) Confidence building – Trying something new and meeting new people can seem daunting but you would be surprised at how quickly you can find your feet and boost your confidence within the volunteer environment. You are likely to find that volunteer opportunities are less pressurised and formal than paid work environments, therefore there’s never any need to be nervous or feel you have anything to prove. It’s unlikely you’ll be expected to be an expert so simply take a deep breath and give it your best shot.
9) Volunteering helps others – One of the most important reasons for volunteering is that your help is needed and the work you do has a positive effect for someone else. We all find ourselves wishing we had time to help out those in need or to do something more important. Your contribution may seem small, but don’t underestimate the value of your time and effort. Volunteering allows you to get involved with your community and play a vital role in supporting and assisting others.
10) It’s fun! My final reason for why all students should volunteer – you will surprise yourself with how much of a good time you’ll have and how rewarding you’ll find the overall experience. All in all, you have nothing to lose and much to gain, so while you have the spare time… get volunteering!