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Volunteering = Career Development

Work ExperienceCareers AdviceEmployability

Whether out of a sense of benign purpose or sometimes just trying to bulk out their CV credentials, many undergraduates get involved in volunteering in their respective communities. Regardless of why exactly they enter into volunteering, it is important to consider the benefits which volunteers can bring.

I am personally involved with volunteering at primary schools at Bristol University and I can personally vouch for the benefits for the volunteers themselves, as well as for the people they work with. In a fairly un-flamboyant, formulaic manner, I am going to run through a little list of reasons as to why exactly volunteering could be exactly what you need?. First and foremost, by engaging with your community and committing a generous amount of time and effort, it is inevitable that you will be bringing benefits to those you work with. Whether that means you are directly helping people with specific activities, or are just lending a helping hand and a smiling face, it is likely that your efforts will be appreciated and that you will be bringing a dose of optimism to people who inevitably deserve it. On a personal level, volunteering forces you to challenge yourself and to enter voluntarily into difficult situations with the ultimate objective of easing the difficulties in the situation, for both yourself and for others. The lessons learnt from scheduling in volunteering activities into an already busy week include forcing you to become an effective timetable, challenging you to get the best out of yourself and others, teaching you how to interact with people who you might not otherwise meet in your immediate social circles, and finally how to take responsibility for yourself and more importantly, for others. What I have found most important about volunteering, is the way in which it has given me the opportunity to get a taster of what I may want to do later in life. Volunteering in primary schools has allowed me to indulge in teaching and to experience some of the pleasures which derive from such work. While I am still not certain as to what exact professional path I should prescribe to, my volunteering has given me valuable insight into a career which I would more than happily enter when I become a real-life graduate! This insight applies to all volunteers who have the opportunity to engage with activities which appeal to their particular interests. To once again draw from my anecdotal, I would like to cite the situation of my medic housemate who volunteers with a special-needs sports group on a weekly basis. On top of it being his most 'rewardable part of the week' it also allows him to gain experience with an area of life which resonates with what he may want to do with his future medical career. Volunteering allows you to dip your toes into various areas of life and can help undergraduates form a stronger impression of what they might want to do, whether that means becoming a sports coach or a medial specialist. The cumulative effect of all these aforementioned features demonstrates how volunteering can be the crucial ingredient in your career development cake. Excusing the hideous metaphor, it is obvious that volunteering only brings about benefits for everyone involved. While the community and specific individuals can benefit from your conscientious efforts, the volunteers themselves can learn effective communicative, timetabling and perseverance skills. These benefits coincide with opportunities to whet your figurative palate in experiences which could help decide your future career. Furthermore (and finally), volunteering can be an effective and importantly, an enjoyable way to contribute to your community, your university experience and your career development.
tom brada grb author

Tom studied English and Drama at The University of Bristol.

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