Leadership. Communication. Teamwork. Problem-solving. Time management. Conflict resolution. These are the competencies students come across all the time in the perennial job search. As we all know, it is essential to show a commitment to something outside of a degree on the old CV. Internships, years abroad, or work experience seem to be the go-to to develop all of these skills, but a lot of students seem to forget about volunteering. Through tutoring, for example, you develop your communication skills, time management, and problem-solving ability. PLUS, it’s a lot easier to get involved with volunteering than it is to land an internship and, obviously, it’s a great thing to do for your community.
Choose from over 50 volunteering projects
Student Community Action (SCA) Volunteering is the biggest volunteering group in Durham with over 50 different projects across the Durham and Queen’s campuses. As a volunteer, you can get involved in activities such as running tea parties for the elderly, to raising awareness of mental health issues, to horse riding with people with disabilities. Some volunteers can also go on to lead one of the volunteer groups or join the exec.
To aid our volunteers’ development, SCA provides access to loads of free and exclusive training. Last term there were 54 sessions! SCA aims to provide at least one relevant training session for each SCA project, so that volunteers are given the opportunity to learn something new and feel more confident in their role. These sessions provide practical, often technical, and transferable skills. If you have a specific future career in mind, this training is a great add-on for your CV. For example, if you want to go into teaching, you can look out for the education-centred sessions. In Michaelmas term, volunteers benefitted from a tutoring skills session run by PeerzAcademy and two sessions on managing difficult child behaviour.
So much to learn!
This term, there are even more sessions lined up! Look out for training on how to effectively teach foreign languages to children and an ‘active listening’ session run by Nightline. In addition to all this, SCA have collaborated with the Careers centre to provide volunteers with a training session titled ‘The Value of Volunteering’. In this practical workshop, volunteers will be extracting and translating their volunteer experience into the skills that employers are looking for with a careers advisor– could it be any easier to pad your CV with SCA?
Personally, I have learned so much from the SCA training sessions. Last term, I did the Emergency First Aid at Work training with FANE, which has given me invaluable knowledge to potentially save someone’s life. Pretty useful stuff. Last year, SCA Volunteering also got me a place on the British Council’s Active Citizens leadership programme. This course focused on understanding and communicating with different cultures in the local community. I was given the chance to develop a social action project and pitch for the funds to make it happen from the British Council. Invaluable experience!
Gain confidence and experience
When I arrived at Durham, I didn’t think I would ever possess these skills. I lacked confidence and constantly asked myself, “How will I ever get a job when there’s so much competition?” Four years later, after volunteering with SCA, I have developed all of those skills and more – all whilst being a part of something incredible: a community.
Skills for life
I urge you not to miss out on all the opportunities that volunteering has to offer, as you might be like me and look back on it as the best thing you did at uni. But you don’t have to take my word for it. Here are the opinions of people who live in the real world and have actual jobs now!
“It’s my go to for interviews. I think it’s the only reason why I got this Porsche job actually!”; “Being involved in SCA has certainly improved my interpersonal and communication skills; especially public speaking. I now feel more confident for chairing meetings or for standing up in front of a group of people to give a presentation.” – Mia O’Shea – Queen’s Campus Events Coordinator and Dog Walking Project Leader 2016/17
“(SCA) helped me get a job in Financial Software!”; “It looks great on a CV, and it’s a great complement to your degree” – Sherrie Talgeri – SCA Volunteering Vice-President 2016-17.
To learn more about SCA Volunteering and how to get involved, take a look at the website https://community.dur.ac.uk/community.action/ or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org (for Durham-based students) or email@example.com (for Queens Campus students).