Volunteering is a great way to keep productive while maintaining a degree of flexibility during your studies. Find out how to get started with this guide.
Volunteering is one of the best ways to make the most of your time at university. You don’t even need to have lots of spare time, because volunteering is flexible enough to fit around your studies. It’s also an excellent way to improve your mental health by interacting with other people.
You can volunteer with a society linked to an issue that you really care about, such as the environment or social issues like homelessness. Through working with numerous heritage organisations in Leeds, I’ve found that volunteering is an excellent way to connect with new people, especially when many of us haven’t been able to spend time on campus this year.
It can be hard knowing where to start looking for volunteering opportunities, so here are five easy ways to find opportunities that suit you:
1. Check your SU and university websites
A good starting point for getting into volunteering is frequently checking your university’s Student Union website and careers websites.
Look out for Freshers’ Fairs, as they usually feature a list of companies and organisations that will be there on the day. Head down to events like these and speak to different organisations.
2. Student societies
Universities have a huge, varied range of societies, from Rick and Morty societies to Quidditch, and most universities will have at least one charity or volunteering group. Get involved with a volunteering group that you’re passionate about. If you can’t find one that appeals to you, you could even set one up yourself.
Joining a society is a great way to meet new people who share similar values to you.
Check the jobs section on LinkedIn regularly, as many organisations market their volunteering opportunities there. You can filter your search by location, keyword, and company. If you’re lucky, you could even bag yourself an internship or a part-time job with the organisation in the future if your volunteering spell goes well.
The great thing about LinkedIn is that you can contact the people who work there directly to ask them any questions you have. You can also have a snoop around to see what the organisation gets up to.
Volunteering helps you to network with potential employers and represents a fantastic opportunity to boost your CV. Make yourself stand out by gaining the experience and transferable skills that employers are crying out for, like teamwork and verbal communication.
4. Google Search and Google Maps
The pandemic has opened a whole range of new volunteering roles. Many organisations have created new roles that allow you to volunteer remotely from the comfort of your home.
I found a website called Zooniverse during the lockdown in March 2020 and discovered loads of projects seeking remote volunteers. They currently have around 80 projects live, including opportunities related to space and architectural photography.
You can also use Google Maps to search for organisations that are based close to you. There may be volunteering roles right on your doorstep that you haven’t heard about.
5. Speak to people you know
Reaching out to family, friends, or university lecturers is another way to find volunteering opportunities. Ask your friends if they know anyone who volunteers or any organisations that might be worth reaching out to.
I got my current volunteering role by speaking to the staff on the community history project that I volunteered with back in my hometown. They then put me in touch with one of the project curators at Leeds City Museum.
By asking around, you’re also more likely to find some cool projects or more niche volunteering roles that aren’t widely advertised online.
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