While it’s incredibly tempting to spend all your precious free time binging on Netflix or Instagram, there’s something you can do that is a) just as enjoyable and b) has a whole host of benefits that could potentially transform your life.
We're talking about volunteering. Whether it's helping care for endangered animals abroad or becoming a Leader at your local Girl Guide group, there are literally thousands of student volunteer opportunities available.
And doing it can really benefit you in a whole host of ways – boosting your confidence, circle of friends, and employability after uni. Opportunities may be limited at the moment with Coronavirus restrictions, but it helps to know what voluntary options you have.
So, what are you waiting for? Our
Whatuni Ultimate Guide to Student Volunteering has all the details you need to get started…
Why You Should Volunteer While At College or University
There are many great reasons why you should consider doing some volunteer work whilst you are studying at college or university. Here's just a few of them...
It Boosts Your University Application and CV
Having student volunteer work down on your CV can really give you a boost with potential employers. It’s also a pretty good thing to have on your . university application form
It makes you look proactive, reliable, and enthusiastic - all traits employers look for in employees.
Volunteering also helps you gain valuable experience to help you in your chosen career. For example, if you are
volunteering in a hospital or care home will give you valuable real-world experience. Or working for a charity organising events or collecting donations could help you if you’re studying for a studying medicine or sales role. marketing
Plus, it gives you other real-world ‘soft skills’ that employers love to
, including teamwork skills, working with highly confidential information, communication skills, and leadership skills. see on your CV
You may even find you can fast-track your career (and your salary!) to a higher level than other graduates – especially if you volunteer in positions where you are actively managing or leading others.
Student Volunteering Equips You With New Skills
Whether it’s developing your cooking skills with in the UK or learning carpentry by helping to build schools in Ghana – volunteering enables you to learn skills that in most cases you’d have to pay to learn otherwise. Foodcycle
Plus, as mentioned above, you’ll learn transferable skills that employers are looking for. Not only that – but you may find you can pick up skills that enable you to apply for careers that you didn’t think you could before.
Talking of which…
Try Out Different Careers With Volunteering
Thinking of a career in , but not sure it's right for you? Fancy yourself as the next Jamie Oliver, but worried you don’t have what it takes? teaching
Volunteering can help you there. It lets you test out new and sometimes completely different jobs to the one you are studying towards gaining.
You never know, you could end up enjoying the work you do in your volunteering role so much that you get inspired to
to the one you’d already planned for yourself. choose a completely different career path
And in some cases, volunteering can lead to paid work if the organisation you are working for thinks you are good enough to offer you a job.
You Can Meet New Friends and Experience New Cultures
When you volunteer – especially abroad in a remote place – you are often part of a close-knit group who spend a lot of time together. Creating all those amazing shared memories of making the world a better place can create a strong bond between you and your fellow volunteers.
Even if you are volunteering in the UK, you’ll get to meet a whole bunch of new people, of all ages and from a variety of different backgrounds. It’s an opportunity to
, try new foods, and learn about the customs and cultures of others – all things that can enrich you as a person. learn new languages
It Can Help You Network
It’s not just new friends that you can meet and bond with while volunteering. Volunteering opportunities in many cases are open to people of all ages to take part in.
You may find yourself volunteering alongside people who are already really successful in their own careers – people could potentially help mentor you, be a reference on your CV, or even help you find a job when you graduate from uni.
By taking part in a variety of volunteering projects you could build a little black book full of handy business connections that may come in handy in the future.
It Makes You Feel Good
Don’t you just love it when you get into bed for the first time after changing your bedsheets (ok, so after your mum has changed them)? The fresh detergent smell on your pillow, the warmth of the duvet with its freshly washed cover. Absolute heaven, right?!
Well, that’s the same warm and fuzzy feeling you get inside when you’ve helped someone else through volunteering. Don’t believe me, then try it!
That’s not to mention the pride you feel in accomplishing things you never thought you could do – like giving a speech in front of dozens of people, encouraging them to donate, or leading an expedition through the treacherous jungles of Nicaragua.
You’re Helping Others
Last, but certainly by no means least, by offering your time and effort you can make a real difference in someone’s life. Whether that’s helping a community in Africa get clean drinking water by building a well in their village or helping a fellow teenager struggling with mental health issues – you can make a change for the better in so many ways.
Volunteering really is a great thing to do with your spare time – both for yourself and for others in need. It really is a win-win for all.
And don’t forget – you don’t need to give up all of your spare time to sow and reap the benefits of volunteering. If you only have an hour or two a week – you can find an opportunity to volunteer and make a difference.
What Volunteer Work Can You Do?
As mentioned, there are literally thousands of volunteer opportunities available, both at home and abroad – all with different levels of commitment required from volunteers.
There’s something for everyone, depending on what your interests are. Here’s a list of some of the things you could find yourself doing…
Volunteering With Animals
If you love animals and want to help protect and care for them, hundreds of volunteer opportunities are available.
In the UK, you could find work helping clean out and feeding animals at a local animal shelter, or looking after the horses and children at a disabled riding centre. Many of these opportunities only require volunteers to give a couple of hours of their time.
If you can commit to something more, there are even opportunities to become a
– helping look after the pets of women and children escaping from domestic violence in your own home. pet foster carer
If you want to help animals of a bigger, more exotic kind, there are many wildlife and marine conservation opportunities available. You could be helping rehabilitate Elephants in Cambodia or helping turtle hatchlings reach the water after they are born in Costa Rica.
If you want to travel the world and do something good for it at the same time, there are loads of opportunities to volunteer abroad.
From surfing and snorkeling your way around Australia, while helping with environmental conservation efforts, to watching the sun setting over the Taj Mahal before teaching
to Tibetan refugees – you can combine helping others with having thrilling adventures and making amazing memories. English
Volunteering With Children
If you are looking to study for a career in care or teaching, then volunteering with children can help you gain valuable experience and develop your skills.
If you are looking for volunteer work in the UK, you could do anything from helping children learn key skills and have fun by being a Scout Leader, or if you are a bit of a Maths whizz you could become a volunteer tutor, helping children with learning difficulties.
If you are looking for opportunities abroad, then you could volunteer to not only teach children English but actually help build their new school in places such as Africa and Indonesia.
Yes, as strange as it may seem – this is actually a thing! If you want to help others, but want to do so from the comfort of your own home, you can.
Sure, you might not get to meet loads of new people this way, so that benefit isn’t really there, but it can be a way to gain invaluable skills and
experience for your CV .
For example, if you are looking to study for a degree and career in marketing, then volunteering as an online marketing assistant working from home could be great for your CV, and could even lead to a permanent job in the end.
This is only just a snippet of the kinds of opportunities available right now. If you want to find the right project for you to get involved with, here’s a list of organisations with volunteer opportunities to help you get started in your search...
Gap Year/Volunteer Opportunities Abroad
is a gap year volunteer organisation that runs programs across the world. Opportunities range from marine conservation, volunteer teaching, and working with women’s empowerment and public health groups in countries such as Nepal, India, and Thailand. GVI
They take safety very seriously with a high staff to volunteer ratios and in-depth risk audits taken for every placement.
Founded 30 years ago, organise unique and exciting overseas volunteer projects, run by UK-trained, highly skilled, and knowledgeable leaders. They run projects across the world – ranging from jungle trekking in central America to teaching English in Tibet. Gapforce
Volunteer Opportunities in the UK
is the UK’s national volunteering database, with over one million opportunities listed from nearly 70,000 organisations, including national and local charities. You can search for opportunities based on how much time you can commit and what your interests are, including do-it from home work. Do-it
Love cooking? Hate food waste. Keen to give those with less the chance to eat good food?
If you’ve ticked any of those boxes,
could have the opportunity for you. They help people who are hungry and lonely by cooking up surplus food into tasty lunches and dinners for them at over 41 sites across the UK. FoodCycle
If you’re a budding chef– or want to hone your skills – you can work as a cook. If that’s not your thing, you can still help out as a host or food collector.
This opportunity really is a winner winner, chicken dinner!
Put your personal experience and wealth of knowledge of being a teenager and a student to good use by helping your fellow students with their problems by volunteering with Nightline.
As the name suggests, Nightline is a listening service run by students for students. It’s open each term night and volunteers answer calls, emails, or texts from troubled students, talking them through their feelings and helping them find a solution to their problems.
Key Things to Consider About Volunteering
Volunteering is great and you should feel proud of going out there and helping others. However, you should never do so at the risk of your own safety and security, or at the risk of you taking on too much and burning yourself out.
With that said, here are some important things to consider and remember before saying yes to any volunteer opportunity.
Think about how much time you can really dedicate – and make sure you honour your commitments. No one likes a flake!
If you can only do one or two hours a month, don’t apply for a position that requires a daily commitment. or coming up in your life – exams, holidays, other work commitments and plan your volunteer work accordingly. Consider what else you have going on
Another thing to factor in is that volunteer work can be tiring – mentally and physically. While you may want to help others as much as you can – make sure you do leave time to have fun and relax. You’ve earned it, being so good!
Think about the costs.
You may be happy to give your time for free to help others. But volunteering can end up costing you far more than just your time. Traveling to work, buying food, or any equipment (i.e. appropriate clothing if you are volunteering outdoors) – it can all mount up. And many overseas gap year opportunities can cost £2,000-£3,000+ - which you have to fund yourself.
Before you sign up for anything, check with the organisation what is covered and what, if any, costs will be reimbursed to you by the organisation in return for you giving up your time.
Think about your health and safety.
If you do plan on volunteering abroad you will need to think about your own health. See your GP for any injections you might need and how to keep yourself safe.
Even if you are only volunteering locally, think about your safety. If you are planning on working with animals, outdoors, or with vulnerable people, make sure you do the research and are aware of any risks you might be taking. Speak to the organisations running the projects to see how they assess risk and work to keep you and other volunteers safe.
Don’t forget to have fun!
Volunteering can be a great way to meet new people, learn new skills, and grow. But most of all it’s a great way of bringing a smile to someone else’s face… and your own!
So go out and explore the wonderful world of volunteering!
If you are a student and you’ve had the experience of volunteering, please do get in touch! We’d love to hear your stories. Drop us an email at
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