Campus Life

How to gain by giving back

The student-led charity, Student Volunteering Cardiff (SVC), is entering another year, and has plans to be even bigger and better than past years, with the help of the students who participate in their projects helping the young, disadvantaged, elderly and vulnerable members of the Cardiff community.

There has never been a more pertinent time for students to be engaged in voluntary work as a creative career move. The current deficiency in graduate jobs in the UK has meant that students must think about ways in which they can make themselves stand out, while employers are also looking for these qualities in applicants. Giving some of your time voluntarily – i.e. for no pay – implies the best kind of commitment and self-motivation, which employers like to see beyond the successful completion of a degree. A survey by Reed Employment revealed that 73% of employers would employ someone with volunteering experience over those without.

The Evening Standard, in their Charity Special (May 28th, 2012), highlight the advantages of volunteering, whatever your situation; in economic times that are tough for the majority, the number of young people not in education, employment or training (NEETS) is brushing one million.

If done with a genuine will to make a difference, volunteering shows great skills to an employer, such as motivation, time management, good communication skills and the desire for self-development by practicing such skills through specific voluntary work; for example, an education volunteering project is valuable experience for applying to a PGCE course; a mental health project could be the key to getting experience in a hospital environment; and working with young people would give you a good insight into being a social worker.

There is surely nowhere better to begin volunteering than at University, where those working with you are of similar age and situation, and there is the opportunity for real bonds to be forged – bonds of both friendship and success on the graduate job ladder. Andy Swan, Vice-Chairman of Student Volunteering Cardiff, shares how his volunteering experience had positive repercussions when he applied for work placements: “I was on my placement year last year, and to get my perfect placement had to send off my CV to various extremely busy psychologists. My boss admitted it was my experiences with SVC (Thrive and Park Road) which caught his attention and made him decide to give me a job.”

SVC offers over 40 different volunteering projects, covering areas as diverse as mental health, learning difficulties, the environment, the elderly, homelessness, young people and education. The time commitment varies depending on which project you choose – some need weekly commitment, whereas others are fortnightly or monthly. SVC is involved in one off volunteering events too, such as playground makeovers and beach clean days, so everyone should find something suitable to fit into a hectic timetable – and there is always room in any timetable for a bit of fun, so why not find some in volunteering? You may be surprised at just what you get back in return.

 

Vanessa Platt

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