Andrew, one of our Sociology and Criminology students, shares advice on how to make the most of your university experience
Volunteering whilst studying at university
My name is Andrew and I study Sociology with Criminology. I will start off by saying that the academic element to your university experience is very important, if you work hard and achieve the very best degree classification you can, then many doors will open for you when you leave the safety net of university and enter the world of work. However, I use the word safety net to describe how university can also restrict your transition as a student to a professional, working in your chosen field. In what follows, I hope to offer some inspiration for you to make the most of this very unique time of your life and boost your employability prospects.
Transitioning from A-level to University
When I first came to university, rather naively but understandably, I was under the impression that I needed to focus entirely on my university work and employers would find me an attractive asset to their company. I think this is where the transition from being an A-level student to being a university student hit most hard. When I was studying for my A-levels, I put my job aside, and focussed purely on exams, as they took up the majority of my time. I also needed to make sure I was getting the best grades I was capable of, so I could come to university. So when it came to being a first year undergraduate, I was in the same mind set. But as you may have been told, a good degree is not the only thing you’ll need to land a good job.
Volunteering at University
Volunteering is a great way to gain experience. For me, I knew I wanted to gain experience in the areas I felt most passionate about, this helped me really engage with volunteering and motivated me to devote my own time. If you are looking for a volunteering opportunity, the best way to search for these is either on the Careers and Employability website, or HIVE Portsmouth. Both of these websites are really useful and you can narrow down your search for specific areas of interest. You can also book a career appointment to discuss any aspirations you have with an advisor and they will be able to offer you help and advice. Don’t be afraid to reach out, they are there to support you.
My volunteering experience
I volunteer for a child bereavement charity in the local area. I chose this charity because like many of the children I now talk to every month, I too, suffered a bereavement during my childhood. I did not have the support this charity offers, so I felt a calling to devote my time. This charity holds support groups every month for children and teenagers who have lost a family member or someone special to them. Volunteering for this charity has not only taught me a lot about myself and my capabilities, but it has also given me extra things to speak about during interviews, thus boosting my confidence and employability prospects.
Go for it
University is truly a unique time of your life, being a student gives you the freedom to commit to a volunteering position to fit around your studies. Remember, you don’t have to commit to anything you don’t feel comfortable with or that you don’t have time for. So if you want to go above and beyond, push yourself and leave university knowing you’ve made a difference whilst also boosting your professional profile, then I would definitely suggest volunteering.