So you’ve decided you fancy giving volunteering a try, how do you go about it? The array of choices can be bewildering. Maybe you want to volunteer, but are worried about how much time you can commit to it. Don’t panic; here are a few simple suggestions about how you can make volunteering work for you.
The best place to begin is to ask yourself, ‘what is my motivation?’ Is it about making a difference to your community? Do you want to meet new people? Are you looking to try something new? Do you want to explore your hobbies and interests? Do you want to work with adults, children or animals? Or, is it about gaining valuable work experience? The answer to these questions should make it easier to know what kind of volunteering you would like to do.
If you are thinking about volunteering as part of your career development it is worth approaching the process in the same way as you would when job hunting. Ask yourself what skills and abilities you have that organisations might need. Are you good with computers? Do you have a driving license? Do you have qualifications in a particular area? Do you work best as part of a team, or alone?
It is also worth considering what kind of experiences you might need in your chosen field. Many careers are hard to break into without practical experience. Look for volunteering opportunities in organisations related to your chosen career.
Finally, ask yourself how much time do you have to commit? Volunteering does not have to be a massive commitment, even as little as one hour a week can still be of huge benefit to you, and to the community.
There are countless ways to get involved in volunteering; here are just a few suggestions:
But volunteering doesn’t have to be on large scale projects and long term commitments. Some volunteering opportunities can be done from the comfort of your sofa if you have a laptop and an internet connection. Volunteering can be anything from a one off event to a small act of kindness for a neighbour.
There are many ways you can gain volunteering experiences whilst studying at the University of Northampton. Here at the Student Union, you can get involved in our many sports clubs and societies either as a member of the committee or as a member. This can involve the running of the club, organising fixtures, events and socials; managing the club funds or organising charity fundraising. We also have several groups such as Marrow, STAR, Rotaract, Buddy’s and Nightline, who campaign for specific causes or charities. We also advertise volunteering opportunities for external charity partners.
The Changemaker Hub, is also there for you throughout your degree, providing volunteering opportunities, work placements, internships, part-time jobs and the opportunity to become an Ambassador for the University. Pop in to one of their venues, at Park Campus Library or the Maidwell building, Avenue Campus.
There are hundreds of resources online to help you find volunteering opportunities. The best place to start is often the website of the individual organisations and charities you would like to work for.
‘Do It’ is a useful database for volunteering opportunities which allows you to search for projects in your local area:
If you are unsure about what kind of volunteering would be of benefit to your career, Prospects has plenty of great careers advice for students: