This week I decided to compile a list of top tips that you need to know before getting involved in volunteering as a student…
1. Know your commitment
As a student, juggling your studies with extracurricular activities can be a bit of a logistical nightmare, but with the right time management skills you can definitely get the balance right. Before committing to a volunteering role, you have to ask yourself: “how much time can I realistically dedicate?”
If you feel that you won’t be able to commit to volunteering long-term without compromising your studies, I would definitely recommend participating in some one-off “Micro Volunteering” events, such as the one featured in last week’s blog post. These experiences are really rewarding, and easy to fit into busy student schedules.
If you are unable to commit to volunteering in term time, perhaps consider signing up to a volunteering project in the holidays. For example, summer volunteering projects abroad allow you to travel to places you’ve never been to before while helping very worthy causes.
2. Do your research
Before you begin applying for volunteering positions, it is important to carry out thorough research. There are so many amazing opportunities on offer, and you will need to research what they entail before you commit.
If like me you’re a student at Newcastle University, the best place to start looking for opportunities is the NUSU Go Volunteer website. Here you can browse through lots of different roles, ranging from art, to conservation, to sport. On the website, you can filter the search to view opportunities that best suit your interests.
If you’re looking for volunteering opportunities in Newcastle more generally, I would also recommend the Volunteer Centre Newcastle website. Here you can browse through hundreds of volunteering roles on offer, and if you register on the website you can receive advice from a Volunteer Centre Officer either over the phone or via email.
3. Know what you want to get from the experience
Before deciding on a volunteering role, it’s worth considering what you want to get out of the experience as this can influence the type of roles you look into.
Do you want to gain certain skills? Do you want to find an opportunity that is relevant to your degree or career? Or do you simply want to give back to your local community in whatever way you can?
Either way, answering these questions will help you to decide which kind of roles to apply for, and which are best suited to your needs.
4. Talk to organisers and volunteers
There’s no better way to really get a feel for what a volunteering opportunity is all about than to have a chat with organisers and volunteers – in person if possible. One of the best places to do this is at a volunteer fair, which many universities offer. These bring together a whole host of different organisations in the same place, allowing you to engage with organisers and volunteers.
Before attending one of these events, I’d recommended preparing a few questions for the organisers to make sure you get all the information you need to make a decision. Such questions could include:
- How many hours a week will I need to commit?
- Can I volunteer flexibly around my studies?
- Will I have to complete training before I can volunteer?
- What skills are you looking for in potential volunteers?
Try to get a feel for the organisation – are you the right fit for them? And are they the right fit for you? If you can find an organisation that you are really passionate about, it will make volunteering with them even more rewarding!
5. Read about the volunteering experiences of others
Reading about other people’s experiences of volunteering is a great way to get a flavour of what the role is about from the perspective of someone who has done it, and their story could even inspire you to take on a similar role.
Here are some great examples that you might enjoy reading…
You’re now ready to go out into the big wide world of volunteering! Good luck!
See you next week!
– Flo 🌱