In celebration of Student Volunteering Week (10th – 16th February 2020), we’ve sat down with both your Mile End and Barts and The London Volunteering Officers to talk about what they hoped to achieve with their year in office and what their favourite thing about volunteering is!
Second up, we have our Mile End Volunteering Officer, Stephanie Tang, talking about her advice for students who are considering volunteering for the first time.
Why did you decide to run?
I decided to run because I had always been a person who valued community. I was a fresher at the time and felt like I wasn’t very involved in university life, so I decided to run for volunteering officer. At the time I was scared because I would have to make speeches and promote myself during my campaign, but I also thought it was a once in a lifetime opportunity, so I decided to go for it! I also had a lot of experience in leadership roles and in community service, so I wanted to be able to use those skills to make a difference to volunteering at the university.
What are you hoping to/have you achieved this year?
When I was running, my main goals were to promote student leadership and to increase visibility. I noticed that there were roles like the volunteering officers and volunteer champions, but that was it. I wanted to offer students a chance to not only build leadership skills, but also be more involved in planning volunteering activities. So one of my promises in my campaign was to create a volunteering board, I’m happy to say we have now introduced the volunteering board which will commence next year!
Why do you think it’s important that students volunteer whilst at University?
University students are so focused on our studies, and some may even consider volunteering a waste of time. But volunteering is so important because it gives us a chance to use our abilities to help others and give back and comes with heaps of benefits. You can build soft skills, gain confidence, boost your CV, and improve your mental wellbeing. These benefits will all contribute to your personal development, and also help with your career.
What’s your favourite thing about volunteering?
As cliché as it sounds, my favourite thing about volunteering is getting to interact with people and make people happy! Most of the week I am either studying or participating in extracurricular activities, which can get stressful. But every week I make sure to go volunteer for one day, and I always look forward to this day. Getting to do something different allows me to get out of my head and stop stressing, and just hearing a genuine thank you always makes my day.
What would your advice be to any students considering volunteering for the first time?
Don’t be afraid! A lot of people are afraid to try volunteering because they’re worried that they won’t know what to do or that people will be mean. Once you step out of your comfort zone, you will be surprised by how accepting and nice other people are. There will always be people there to help and support you, so don’t worry if you don’t have any experience. I think our give volunteering a go programme is a great first step for new volunteers, you can try out what you like with one-off opportunities, and there will always be a volunteer champion there to help you!