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Career Focus: How can volunteering help your career?

Volunteer work is always an enriching experience. It allows you to grow as a person, learn more about the world and give back to society. But, you may be wondering: “how exactly can volunteering help your career?”.

Read on to discover some of the volunteering opportunities available at our university partners, and the many ways you can benefit from participating in volunteer work during your studies.

Impress employers and secure a job 

In today’s ever-competitive job market, it’s important to stand out from other applicants. A great way to do this is by having volunteer work on your CV or résumé. 

It not only makes your job application unique, but also shows that you possess skills that can be transferred from your volunteer role to the workplace. These can include anything from leadership skills and creativity to having a positive attitude and a strong work ethic.  

Getting involved in community projects and charity work will help you strengthen these particular skills and attributes.

Volunteering also gives you the chance to adapt to different situations, which is a useful ability to have when it comes to job interviews. This, alongside the development of your confidence and communication skills, means you’ll be able to impress employers before you’ve even started your job.  

Many of our university partners offer opportunities to volunteer. For example, the University of York has an established network of partnerships with local charities. Each year, 600 students apply for roles across fields such as health and wellbeing, social justice and sustainability. You could join them!

Additionally, the University of Bristol and UWE Bristol both have excellent connections with charitable organisations that focus on sustainability and environmental projects. This is thanks to the city’s reputation for green initiatives, with Bristol even being awarded a European Green Capital award in 2015.

Through the universities’ connections, you could help the community by cleaning up Bristol harbourside and contributing towards environmental projects such as maintaining city parks.

Experience a work environment 

While at university, it’s valuable to seek progression and development outside of the classroom. A great way to do this is by obtaining real-world experience in a work environment, such as an office with different teams and people to report to. 
This type of work experience can be achieved through volunteering at your university’s Students’ Union. These roles are often based in an office environment and teach students professionalism in the workplace.     

Nottingham Trent University has a range of opportunities within its Students’ Union. These include organising and promoting fundraising activities and working in the welfare team as a Mental Health Champion. These roles will put your teamwork, leadership and communication skills into practice.

Build connections 

Another answer to the question “how can volunteering help your career?”, is that it helps you to meet people. It’s always important to make connections and network with other professionals. And it’s a good idea to start making these connections at university, as it may come in useful when applying for jobs after you graduate.

This is because a close connection could either write a great letter of recommendation for you to show to a potential employer, or they may even help you find a job or employ you themselves.  
The University of Birmingham offers community volunteering opportunities at a number of well-known organisations, such as Childline and the National Trust. Securing contacts with employees at such reputable charities will make your recommendation from them more credible, and more likely to stand out to an employer.  

Develop as a person  

Volunteering can contribute greatly to your personal development and help foster your values. This especially applies to volunteering roles that involve community service. These types of volunteering positions are very popular among students at US universities, with many of these establishments offering programmes in collaboration with local communities.  

For example, community service is an important aspect of student life at Arizona State University (ASU). The University has a number of outreach programmes available to students, with some being centred around cultural connections and social change. This can involve bringing the people of a community together and promoting positive social change through a variety of ways.  

In fact, ASU students contributed an estimated 1.8 million hours of service to the community last year! As a result, ASU was named a recipient of the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll.

The selfless nature of this service to the community will teach you how to be thoughtful towards and help your fellow members of staff, a trait which is valued by employers. It’s a great way to prepare for your career.

Meshack, an international student at Bournemouth University, recognised the effect that volunteering as a Hospitality Management Programme Representative had on his CV, in terms of showcasing the development of his career skills: 

“Having this kind of virtue on my CV gives it added value, since most companies want to associate with visionary and hard-working leaders.” — Meshack

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Additionally, because the impact of your community service is a result of how much time and effort you put into it, it helps you develop a strong work ethic and a sense of responsibility and accountability. These characteristics will be admired in the workplace and help you go far in your career.

Discover your dream career  

Volunteering roles are an opportunity to try something new and work in an environment that you aren’t familiar with. This could lead you to discover a job, a sector or even a company that you’d really like to work in, one that you may not have considered before.

For example, the University of Westminster has links with over 300 charities, meaning there are many different non-profits to choose from, which can open your mind to different job opportunities that you haven’t yet explored. You can get help finding the right one for you through the University’s Student Volunteering Service.

Volunteer while studying abroad  

So, can volunteering help your career? Yes! Hopefully you’re now excited about the benefits of volunteering and the choices available to you.

If you’d like to study abroad at one of these fantastic universities, or at any of our other university partners, and take advantage of the incredible volunteering opportunities in the UK and USA, Kaplan are here to help.  

Contact us if you would like to hear more about our different study options and how you could be on your way to studying abroad and kick-starting your dream career.     

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