This post is a guest blog from Alex at Studenteer; a company that helps students and graduates to connect with charities and businesses and offer their time to help with various tasks. In this post, Alex shares how volunteering can help you to get a job as a graduate.
It’s been a really tough year for anyone searching for a job, so if you find yourself out of work and are facing lots of rejections, why not consider volunteering for a few months? Find out more in the blog below.
The class of 2020 are probably facing the biggest challenge since the 2008 recession. The impact of COVID-19 has cancelled graduate schemes and stalled recruitment for many companies. Like many recent graduates, I was struggling to secure a permanent position upon finishing my studies. In the meantime, however, I decided to volunteer with a non-profit project that connects students and recent graduates with charities and causes needing some support.
In July, my time at university officially came to an end, I was elated with my results and was so pleased that all the hard work had paid off, despite a set of really challenging circumstances. However, being back at home in my childhood bedroom submitting dozens of applications a week with little to no response, wasn’t exactly the graduate high I’d been expecting…
Initially, I felt quite despondent about the situation, I was lacking focus and structure until a friend told me about a new project she was working on and asked if I would like to get involved.
For the past five months, I have been volunteering with Studenteer, an organisation which encourages students and graduates to use their free time to make a positive change for an array of charities or causes in need of voluntary support. Students and recent graduates are connected with non-profits, providing valuable work placements, mentoring, and a sense of purpose to those that are struggling with the break in employment or study. They offer placements according to your skillset and career interests in things like website development, graphic design, content marketing and social media.
I joined the internal team of students and graduates and helped to develop the project by getting involved with their marketing and PR. I had some experience in this area and was frantically applying for graduate roles in-between volunteering. Low and behold, five months after graduating, I have just secured my first trainee position in a London PR agency, a success which I attribute partly to Studenteer!
Volunteering for Studenteer helped me to gain confidence in skills and develop new ones. I was involved in a press outreach strategy and learnt SEO and WordPress which I was able to talk about at interviews. I was able to put into practice a grassroots PR strategy and give real examples of my achievements during the months after graduating.
Although it wasn’t something I thought about when beginning my graduate job search, volunteering was fantastic during lockdown. After so many weeks trapped between four walls, it’s easy to fall into a pattern of sleeping until midday, watching Netflix and letting the day slip by without much to show for it. Volunteering gave me the structure and routine that I desperately craved and I cannot recommend it enough.
If you are one of the thousands of 2020 graduates who are struggling to find that all important role, don’t despair. There are a whole host of volunteering opportunities available online that have only increased since the start of the pandemic. UK charities are struggling, facing a £10 billion funding gap over the next six months as a result of COVID-19. The surge in remote working has opened up new opportunities for assisting good causes and you can find many of these listed online.
As well as making you feel good, volunteering can be great for networking as you never know when a paid position may become available. A really interesting fact I found out recently is that 70 percent of jobs aren’t advertised, meaning the majority of roles are allocated based on networking, connections or luck… Plus, with employers being 80 percent more likely to offer jobs to applicants with voluntary experience, it’s something worth considering.
I underestimated at the beginning of my search just how difficult it would be to find a job. I sent nearly one hundred applications and received replies from approximately 25 percent of them. It was really difficult to stay motivated and positive. I know so many people that are in this position and a sympathise. Volunteering for a good cause gave me a purpose and something to keep working on and kept my spirits up when things were difficult.
If there is one thing that COVID-19 has taught me so far, it’s the importance of being resilient. The class of 2020 might not have the easiest start in graduate life but I’m hopeful we will all get there in the end.
Thank you so much to Alex for sharing her experiences of volunteering. If you find yourself with a lot of time, take a look at some volunteering opportunities and see if it can help you to find a job too!
If you’re looking for any more advice regarding the workplace, check out my previous posts about graduate careers here.