During your time at university it’s so important to find work experience alongside getting your degree. Understandably, it’s always nice to earn a salary for your time, but if you’re willing to put the effort in, volunteering can be equally rewarding, if not even more so. Dublin City University highlights a lengthy list of benefits, so there’s really no reason not to get involved.
Volunteering at university is easy. Take a look on your student union’s website and you’ll find loads of opportunities organised and run by the union, so all you need to do is turn up. Whether you’re interested in marketing, the environment, or health and social care, there will be positions that cater to everyone, so you can have fun in your volunteer role and benefit the community. In addition, a lot of activities are just for the day, so you can still help out even if you don’t have much time to spare.
While earning money in a cafe or shop is a great way to gain independence, a lot of the paid work in your town or city may be very far from your field of interest. With volunteering, the scope is a lot more diverse, and the fact you’re willing to work for free demonstrates your commitment to future employers. If you’re studying Zoology, experience with animals and wildlife would be a valuable use of your time and something you’re likely to enjoy. If you’re an Illustrator or Graphic Designer, producing artwork for charitable organisations to use in their promotion would enable you to make valuable contacts, while helping them broaden their own businesses.
Of course, you can always branch out and find your own volunteering opportunities. Every town or city will have an Oxfam, Cancer Research UK or British Red Cross. Donating items to these shops is commendable, but offering your time is infinitely more valuable. You’ll be helping a great cause, and gaining skills essential for good customer service: communicating with the public, using a till and problem solving to name a few. These skills are important for almost any job, so spending a couple of hours every week helping out in the local charity shop is undoubtedly worth your while. An article from Universities UK states that volunteering enables students to handle unfamiliar situations with more confidence, undoubtedly a positive in the world of work.
While you’re shopping in town at the weekend, take a look through any art galleries, small music venues or sports facilities for volunteering opportunities. During my time volunteering at the museum I’ve catalogued ancient fossils, documented a room full of exquisitely preserved bird specimens and even cleaned a whale skeleton. There’s no end to the possibilities, many of which you may never find out about unless you investigate. If you need more reasons why volunteering at university is so important, have a read of TopUniversities’ article. Get out there and make a difference!
- By Rebecca Gibson