During my time at Leeds Beckett, I was involved with a whole range of volunteering opportunities. I originally decided to explore volunteering opportunities in my first year as a way to add to my CV as I had some spare time alongside my studies. As I wanted to work in the heritage sector, I knew I needed to have as much experience as possible on my CV, as it could be very competitive even to get your foot in the door.
During my time at Leeds Beckett, I was involved with a whole range of volunteering opportunities. I originally decided to explore volunteering opportunities in my first year as a way to add to my CV as I had some spare time alongside my studies. As I wanted to work in the heritage sector, I knew I needed to have as much experience as possible on my CV, as it could be very competitive even to get your foot in the door. However, I found that volunteering gave me so much more than just a boost to my CV.
As I volunteered both within the Students’ Union and outside, I found there were a lot of benefits to me as a student and on a personal level. Within the SU I volunteered in roles to help represent my fellow students, which gave me the chance to work with peers from a diverse range of backgrounds, giving me an insight into different viewpoints and experiences. As a student rep, I better learnt how to listen to, understand and relay concerns and comments, acting as a liaison. This was a great way to make friends outside my course, and to help make a difference to the student experience. Volunteering within the SU added so much to my time at university, shaping my experience to be richer, and about more than just my course.
Outside the SU, I volunteered with organisations such as Leeds City Museum and York Museums Trust. These experiences were essential to my career progression; volunteering as a costumed interpreter and store auditor with York Museums Trust helped me find my first paid job in the heritage sector, as a staff member I was volunteering with let me know about upcoming opportunities within the Trust. Volunteering was also amazing for networking, which is key not just to the heritage sector but many different industries. Networking can often seem daunting and tricky, but by volunteering and getting your name and face out there, you end up naturally building up a network which can be invaluable later on. Volunteering in museums also gave me a chance to develop skills unique to the sector which I wouldn’t have had a chance to build on otherwise. I had to opportunity to write and design displays, handle and catalogue collections, and engage with visitors in Victorian costume! It was a lot of fun, great for my career, and helped organisations carry out their work, which was very rewarding.
My advice to other students who are looking to volunteer, especially in the heritage, arts or cultural sector, is to not be afraid to reach out to organisations. Many places will be thrilled to hear from you and will be happy to chat with you to figure out not just what you can bring to their organisation as a volunteer, but what you want to get out of the experience as well. Don’t be afraid to say yes to opportunities too, you never know where it could lead!
This week is Volunteering week! For more info about volunteering at Leeds Beckett Students' Union, click here.