You’ll learn an awful lot from your university course, but when it comes to landing your first graduate job, having some volunteering experience on your CV can open many doors.
Whether you’re studying English Literature or Astrophysics, Veterinary Science or Maths, volunteering gives your CV that extra boost which could just be the ticket to your dream career. Here are just five reasons to give volunteering a go while you’re still at university.
It teaches you new skills
‘Book learning’ is great but it can only get you so far in life. While a degree course can teach you a lot of technical know-how which will never go to waste, volunteering can help you pick up new skills you couldn’t get in a lecture theatre. It can teach you leadership, creative thinking, problem solving and how to work as part of a team – all the ‘soft’ skills employers want to see in a well-rounded candidate.
It introduces you to people from a different walk of life
University can be a bit of a bubble, and you tend to spend most of your time hanging out with other students. Volunteering – whatever you do – can introduce you to people from different backgrounds and with different ways of thinking, the sort of people you may never otherwise have had an opportunity to meet. You might volunteer to work with the homeless, those with mental health difficulties, those with a physical disability or even work with children – whatever you end up doing, it can open your eyes to new ways of seeing the world.
It shows social awareness
Employers like to hire applicants who can see the bigger picture. Most voluntary projects recruit people to help them plug a gap in public services, to address a particular problem in their local community or an issue affecting wider society. Being able to list volunteer work on your CV shows you are a more open-minded and socially aware individual, and employers like that in a candidate - they aren’t always the hard-hearted corporate drones you might think they are, and most want to see their organisation and its staff making a positive impact on the world.
It helps fill the time
A lot of courses have only a few hours’ contact time a week, and even once you’ve attended all the lectures and seminars, done the required reading and written all the essays, you’ll probably still have time on your hands. University can be an exciting experience, but it’s always accompanied by long hours of boredom. Volunteering can help you feel you’re filling that time productively, which means you’ll end the day with a sense of achievement you can’t get from killing time on Instagram or online shopping.
There’s the crucial missing element! Volunteering can be great fun, particularly if you can rope your mates in or if you meet like-minded fellow-volunteers. For those who are less socially outgoing, volunteering is a fantastic way to meet people in a less daunting setting than the union bar or out on a noisy club night.
As most student unions operate volunteering programmes, you’re bound to find something which is worthwhile, fun and which will add value to your CV when you come to graduation day. Competition for graduate jobs is tough – get ahead with some volunteering experience and you could find it more than pays you back in the long-run.
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