By Alaya Seoudy, Alumni Engagement Assistant
Life before lockdown was full of hustle and bustle, time felt as though it was slipping away, we became so swept up in our own lives that we often had less time for others. For a lot of us, when lockdown came into effect it was as though everything slowed down, the rush hour commute became the walk in the park, all of a sudden we were forced to stay at home, spend time with family, reach out to the vulnerable; communities came together in full force to support one another. We realised the importance of making time for others, for giving back.
Lockdown and the pandemic may have made it seem harder to gain voluntary experience, but at Future First we have so many opportunities for you to volunteer in an educational setting, for example, by conducting mock interviews, helping in a careers Q&A, appearing on a role model poster for your old school, mentoring current students, featuring in a case study, attending a workshop – and more – all from the comfort of your own home!
But what’s in it for you, if you volunteer with us?
Voluntary experience is so important to your CV – especially if you are starting to make those first tentative steps into your career or if you want to flesh-out your personal statement for uni. Job applications and employers will often ask if you have any voluntary experience and it really does help if you can say ‘yes’ and speak passionately about what that was.
Volunteering is a great way to gain new skills and showcase them to employers. For example, you’ll be able to show that you have time-management skills, public speaking, communication and interpersonal skills, that you hold values (which might even align with theirs) and that you’re proactive in seeking out opportunities.
Some recent volunteer feedback included:
“I think it is a brilliant way to engage and support young people in their career and education choices.”
“It is a fun experience and it’s nice to help out the younger generation.”
“I feel very positive about the aspiration of the programme and it feels more useful now more than ever, given the impact of COVID-19 and the complications many young people now face regarding their future options.“
You can read more volunteer stories here.
Change lives: become a relatable role model
Anyone can be a role model – a success story isn’t always about achieving straight As and getting the top job. Our alumni volunteers come from all walks of life and have often taken an interesting route to get to where they are today.
Volunteering at Future First will develop your ability to empathise and understand the challenges young people currently face while becoming a relatable role model for students at your old school, or one local to you.
Vikki Massarano is a Partner at Arc Pensions Law and a Future First volunteer, she told us about the importance of role models in providing crucial work experience to young people and how it can directly contribute to an inclusive and diverse workforce.“Many young people aren’t lucky enough to have strong role models and they need to have the opportunities that Future First provides to widen their horizons and give them the confidence to strive for success.”
Pass on crucial knowledge
By volunteering, you can help students at schools and colleges across the country by sharing your personal experiences and vital knowledge, so that they can gain valuable insights to help inform their life choices after school. We’ve had volunteers talk to year 12 groups about transitioning to further education and onto other pathways, talk about how to settle in during those critical first few weeks at uni, about their experiences with apprenticeships, about being part of the LGBTQ+ community and much much more. Encounters with relatable role models – just like you – is especially important for students who lack connections and role models in their everyday lives.
Nir, a year 12 student said: “In the future, I hope to study at university and I’ve gained a lot of tips, [the workshop] has helped me improve my decision making especially because my mentor has gone through the same experiences and I can learn from them”.
Building your network
Volunteering with Future First is not a one-sided relationship. We all know the phrase ‘it’s not what you know, it’s who you know’. By joining us, you will be able to build your professional network by connecting with other alumni. You will also gain an insight into a variety of roles and industries. For example, by volunteering at one of our webinars you will be able to meet other people doing a different role within your industry or even hear from senior experts in your field and learn about their pathways.
Building your network could potentially unlock so many new doors!