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Volunteering

Volunteering

There are many reasons to volunteer. Volunteering gives you the chance to make a contribution to society or to a cause you feel strongly about. It also enables you to develop skills and confidence and gain experience, as well as to have fun and meet new people. In many career areas, for instance environmental or health-related roles, volunteering is essential for entry into the field.

How volunteering can help your career

A year after volunteering at the Calais refugee camp, Hassun El Zafar has just started his new job as a science teacher.

How can I volunteer?

Sheffield Hallam Students' Union

The Students' Union offers a wide variety of volunteering opportunities, and has a team to support anyone interested in getting involved:

  • Volunteer in an area linked to your studies or try something completely new
  • Get involved in one-off projects for a couple of hours each semester
  • Volunteer weekly or take on responsibility for leading a project
  • Volunteer as an individual or contribute to a group project
  • Take part in the Hallam Award, and improve your career development and leadership skills

Take a look at the Students' Union website, or email them to request more information.

Sheffield Volunteer Centre

Sheffield Volunteer Centre advertises volunteering opportunities on behalf of local charities, and checks to ensure that expenses and appropriate training are offered. Vacancies are also advertised online through do-it.org.

Volunteering outside of Sheffield

Search and apply online for a wide range of vacancies nationally, using do-it.org. Find your Local Volunteer Centre by searching with your postcode.

Find your own volunteering opportunities
  • Use a local directory such as the Sheffield Directory to identify organisations related to your areas of interest to approach for opportunities
  • Check the organisation's website to see if they offer volunteering opportunities. If volunteering is not mentioned, contact the organisation (preferably by phone or in person) and ask. 
  • If no opportunities are available at present, there can still be benefits to the conversation. Ask if you can be added to a mailing list, ask if you can visit the organisation to find out more, or arrange work shadowing.
Volunteer abroad

Volunteering abroad allows you to make a contribution to communities and lives in other countries, to develop skills, maybe learn a language, gain independence and confidence, and develop understanding of other cultures. Read more about the benefits of overseas volunteering on Prospects for ideas on finding opportunities abroad. For further details on living and working abroad, go to Prospects country profiles. Also see our Gap Year page.

Making the most of volunteering

What experience is required for the career you are interested in? Look at person specifications for graduate roles and seek volunteering to help you fulfil these requirements.

  • Apply well in advance of when you would like to start volunteering, as some organisations will only recruit at certain times of the year.
  • The organisation will usually provide travel costs and a lunch allowance if volunteering for a full day. Opportunities through Hallam Union and Sheffield Volunteer Centre are checked to ensure this is the case.
  • It is the organisation’s responsibility to provide training and support to volunteers and this can include accredited training. Check what is provided when you apply and take up any training you are offered.
  • Some organisations will ask for a minimum time commitment. This is most commonly found in organisations offering a substantial training programme. If you are unable to commit to this period ask about one-off events or short term opportunities instead.
  • Make the most of your volunteering when you do start; show enthusiasm and willingness to learn. Keep a diary so that you can reflect upon the skills and experience you have developed.

You can book an appointment with an Employability Adviser to talk about your plans to volunteer, or about how you might present your skills and experience in a job application or at an interview.

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