The benefits of volunteering
Working for the Careers and Employment Service at the University of Derby, I meet a lot of people looking for ways to stand out in a competitive jobs market.
One thing I always ask is, “have you considered volunteering?” It’s a great way to add sparkle to a CV.
You get the chance to develop transferable skills, such as communication and teamwork, and perhaps also some more specialised skills.
Using your skills for the benefit of others is a rewarding experience. There are plenty of organisations out there who would love to have a marketing graduate, for example, look over their marketing materials. They love to get people with fresh ideas and skills on board to invigorate their activities.
On the flip side, employers really value volunteering because of the skills and experience that workers gain from it. It’s an important way for graduates to demonstrate their skills and you can draw on these experiences in future job interviews.
It’s a really nice way of networking with people and building relationships. Sometimes it can even lead to paid opportunities further down the line. In my career, I’ve had about three or four instances where I’ve started out volunteering and then gained paid employment through that.
But it isn’t just about the positive impact on your CV, volunteering is also a really fun thing to do. You can meet new people and make new friends while doing fun things (like wearing fancy dress every week during fundraising activities, if you like that sort of thing).
You might also get to know people who you wouldn’t otherwise have much interaction with. Some of our students volunteer to work alongside older people and these experiences are often very rewarding all round.
Micro-volunteering for busy people
Volunteering doesn’t have to be a big commitment. Recently, there’s been more of an emphasis on people helping out in short bursts, anything from 30 seconds to 30 minutes. It’s called micro-volunteering.
It could be something like making Christmas cards for vulnerable people or taking part in social media activities online. There are lots of ways to get stuck in.
I support one particular charity by helping out at their annual fundraising event. It’s six hours on a Saturday and that’s all I do. But it is their biggest fundraising event and it couldn’t go ahead without the help of volunteers.
However you choose to get involved, volunteering is a great way to develop your skills, meet new people and give something back to the community.
The Careers and Employment Service features loads of opportunities on its Twitter (@DerbyUniVol) and Facebook (University of Derby Volunteering). We typically list between 80 to 100 positions each month, so there’s a good chance you’ll find something to suit you. If you can’t find what you’re looking for, we’d be happy to help and you can get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org or 01332 592939.
We’re also holding our annual Volunteering Fair in November at the main Kedleston Road site of the University. The Fair will feature a variety of charities and community organisations looking for volunteers and is open to the public on both days. Be sure to check our events website (www.derby.ac.uk/events) for further information.