As a university student, there are many commitments on your time, not least the job of making the most of your studies and getting a good degree at the end.

Yet going to university is also about developing self-knowledge through acquiring new experiences, meeting new people and uncovering strengths and skills you didn’t know you had. One easy way of getting there is via volunteering.

While it does not give you access to earnings that paid work does, volunteering has many benefits that can stand you in good stead for the future.

1, It boosts your employment prospects

You can be confident in the fact that employers will recognise the skills that you gain through voluntary work experience – whether it’s organising an event for a good cause, carrying out interviews and surveys or even interacting with customers every day. If you can demonstrate that you have developed skills in teamworking, customer handling, and communication, as well as other slices of expertise you might gain, it will enhance your CV and lead you to better employment prospects once you leave.

2. It’s a powerful way to network

During volunteering, you will meet different people from all walks of life. Making good contacts amongst the people you’ve shared experiences with will help you in countless ways; they may help point you in the right direction when it is time to start thinking about which careers you are interested in. They could also be a valuable source of advice to help you further enhance your skills. They may even put you in touch with their networks, giving you a helpful step on the ladder towards your ideal job.

3. It enriches your degree

Going to university is an opportunity to become a well-rounded person with many interests. Getting involved in clubs or societies at university will hone your organisation, decision-making and time management skills which you can use to great effect in your studies to nail that degree.

4. It’s a way to make a difference

Whatever you’re passionate about, there is a charity or a not-for-profit organisation out there that can benefit from your enthusiasm. This is your chance to help shape the world for the better with other like-minded people. The wellbeing that comes from contributing to a cause you love will keep you in good shape mentally and spill over into other areas of your life.

5. It helps you experience different cultures

Today (5 December 2016) is International Volunteers Day, where volunteers around the world are recognised for their contributions to global causes. If you are able to, it might be worth checking out some short-term volunteering opportunities that you can take abroad during your summer vacation. You may find you get a new perspective on global causes and there is nothing like the thrill of experiencing another culture.

In a survey that the National Centre conducted in March 2016 with 48 university students, volunteering was the second most popular choice of work experience in which students participated (the most popular was sandwich placements). Ask your careers service or student union if there are volunteering schemes that you can join or take a look at one of the following:

The National Centre is also developing a product called BrandU, which will provide university students with many different work experience opportunities from internships to volunteering, planned for launch in Autumn 2017. Watch this space for more information!

By Anamika Bhatt
National Centre Digital Networks Manager