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Why you should volunteer

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Beyond receiving a dose of the warm and fuzzy feelings that doing charity work dishes out on a regular basis, there are plenty of reasons to volunteer throughout your time at university.

Often thought of as a purely selfless act, you often gain as much if not more than you give throughout volunteering projects. Whether you do some fundraising for a particular cause, go into schools an afternoon every other week or help the local community’s go-green efforts, the act of volunteering has a lot to offer those who partake in it – so much so that there is a notable trend that those who find a reason to volunteer once will often find that reason occurring over and over again, until they identify themselves as a volunteer first and foremost. This is the cycle of volunteering.

Reasons to volunteer include:

Meet like-minded people

This reason applies particularly early on in your university career, but remains relevant throughout: volunteering is often a group activity. People tend to donate their time or skills en masse: it is rare to see a university student in a primary school classroom on their own, for instance. Though this can often seem like a forced sort of socialising, the best thing about these groups of people is that you all have one particular thing in common: you are nice people and you all see the cause you are giving your times/skills to as worth your time/skills. It is a great starting point to meeting people – I know this to be true as most of my university friendship groups emerged through joint fundraising events or volunteering society socials.

Boost your CV

Having more than just your educational qualifications and a personal statement on your CV is what turns you from statistics into a real person. Being interested in unconventional sports, having worked in some capacity for a school or having a passion for a particular cause will make you a more memorable candidate than other people applying for the same positions as you. Volunteering can often lead to references for your LinkedIn or CV and fill gaps between your employment periods. The best part of volunteering for this reason is how often it leads into you finding other reasons as soon as you arrive: it is notable that the number of people who come for their CV is huge, but the number of people who stay for their CV is minimal.

Having fun

By far the reason that most of my friends and I stayed in volunteering is how enjoyable it is – the amount of comedic moments you’ll encounter is genuinely unbelievable. The best example I can give is the concept of “transfer karma” and how quickly volunteers adopt it. The principle is simple: you transfer the good karma you gain from volunteering to cancel out the bad karma you gain from being overtly drunken on a night out, balancing you out as an “okay person”: the ideal state to strive for. Moments like this are unique to volunteers and do-gooders, and the fun you’ll have as a group is at times, honestly incomparable.

The important thing to remember about volunteering is that it’s not a commitment for life. If you want to shake a bucket for Dementia UK for just one day, it is 100 percent okay to do that, stick it on your CV, and never do anything again. Volunteering is something that fits around your needs and demands, and will always be flexible – a lot of charities will always be actively recruiting – so it’s never too late to go back, but it’s equally never unreasonable to put it on hold.

Do you know of any more reasons why you should volunteer? Let us know in the comments below!

Photo: Howard Lake / Flickr

Andrew E. KingWhy you should volunteer

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