Maybe you have the next thirty to forty years of your life mapped out perfectly, with a clear career goal in mind. You go, Glen Coco. We’re impressed.
Or maybe you don’t. That’s just as exciting — no one’s expecting you to have your life dreamt away by this point anyway.
Either way, a great way to cash in some of your free time is to look into volunteering. The big ‘V’ is bounced around a lot when it comes to unis talking about what they want from students, advice from careers advisors and glamorous-looking ads for gap years in exotic destinations.
But what can it mean for you? Well, it can mean just about whatever you want it to.
If you know the direction you’re heading in, in terms of the industry you’d like to be a part of or even a specific career you’re aiming for, any time spent volunteering in areas that relate to this look great for prospective admissions tutors at unis and employers.
For example, thinking of studying Veterinary Sciences?
You want to be chatting up anyone you know who rides horses to get experience at a stable yard. Or dropping in on your local vet to offer your time, however they might use it. Or speaking to local farmers to get involved in regular tasks like worming livestock or lambing. Or giving up time to help out at animal shelters or kennels.
How about something a little less conventional, like a career in music or sound production? You want to be helping out friends to produce their content, even if it’s only for fun. You want to get involved with local radio stations and seeing if you can sit in on a few shows to see where the magic happens.
Ask your music teachers or tutors if they can put you in touch with any of their contacts — they’re bound to have loads. And you’re adding them to your bank of contacts, too. Who you know can be just as important as what you know.
It’s easier to connect yourself to volunteering opportunities than it ever was before. Rethink the possibilities of social media — connect with people on Twitter and LinkedIn, do online research to hunt down exciting companies and opportunities, keep up with the latest industry news.
Sure, volunteering can come with some boring connotations, but it really doesn’t have to mean reading to grannies at the nearest nursing home.
(Not that that isn’t an admirable and worthwhile investment of your time. Especially if you want to get into care or social work, medicine, media, or pretty much any industry that involves actually talking to people.)
What we’re trying to say is that volunteering can be pretty damn exciting, especially if it relates to something you’re really passionate about. It also sets you up well for the future—it shows that you’re dedicated to the industry because you gave up your time for it with no expectation of pay or a reward.
It will give you loads of things to talk about in personal statements and interviews, because you’ll have so many experiences behind you. Maybe most importantly of all, it shows you have the initiative to consider your future, and the drive to do something above and beyond with your valuable free time.
Something pretty impressive to stick in your personal statement. Believe us — employers and unis will go mad for it.
LUCY HARDING is the Editorial manager for Push. She is an English Literature grad and an MA Publishing student at UCL. She is passionate about international relations and cultural diversity, having worked closely with her university’s Erasmus society to support European students. She also spent a year abroad studying at California State University: Long Beach
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