When looking for a volunteering opportunity as part of your career planning consider the following:
- What you want to do after graduation and the pathways into your desired occupation
- Skills that you wish to develop as part of your career planning/ the skills set for your desired occupation
- Skills that you already possess and how others could benefit from your commitment
- Any personal interests that you have
- How much time you can commit to volunteering without it impacting on your studies
The Community Volunteering team can help you to find appropriate volunteering opportunities by offering volunteering advice. We can provide information about volunteering with an organisation or about volunteering on one of the projects run here at City. Other services available at the Career and Skills Development Service, such as CV and covering letter drop-ins might also be helpful in the application process for voluntary roles, and to help translate volunteering onto your CV.
Please note that voluntary sector organisations will take different approaches to the recruitment of their volunteers; some will expect a CV and covering letter, followed by an interview, others will take a more informal approach.
« Sign up to City Volunteering on-line
City Volunteering has a searchable database of volunteering opportunities in the local area and beyond. Registering your details will enable you to store your profile securely on City Volunteering so that we can find opportunities for you which will match your interests, skills and availability.
Once you have registered you can start applying for opportunities straight away. We will confirm your username and password by e-mail and once you've verified your email address, you will be able to login to the site whenever you want to use the various options. These include:
- Amending your profile
- Checking to see if you have been matched to any opportunities
- Search for new opportunities or training
- Voting in our polls
Once you start applying for opportunities you will be contacted about what happens next - normally by the organisation running the opportunity, to discuss getting you started as soon as possible.
« Use the Do It website
This website is an online volunteering search engine offering 1000s of volunteering opportunities in an extensive range of organisations and remains one of the best regularly updated web resources for volunteering opportunities. Follow the simple instructions on the website on how to search for an opportunity, there is also general information about volunteering and other useful resources.
« Use the v website
This website is specifically targeted at volunteers aged 16-25 in England. It has a search engine that is powered by Do it where you can look for volunteering opportunities, but also has additional features such as blogs and chat rooms, information about volunteering abroad and details of funding that young people can apply for to run their own project.
« Use the Goodwill Gallery
The Goodwill Gallery puts members of the public who are interested in volunteering their time in touch with organisations who need volunteers. You can search for an organisation or post a message advertising your services.
« Use the Guardian Jobs section
As well as information about jobs, the Guardian advertises volunteering opportunities both online and in the Society sections printed on Wednesdays and Saturdays. The Society section is also an excellent way to stay in touch with developments in the not-for-profit sector.
« Find out about Timebanking
Timebanking is a different form of volunteering and offers you the chance to earn “Time Credits” by exchanging your skills and time for those of someone else. For example, if you speak a second language you could offer 1 hour of language tuition, earn one time credit and then exchange this for a service that you have need of, e.g. computer repair. There are Timebanks across Islington (and the UK), including one just round the corner from City at the St Luke’s Centre, Central St. For more information about Timebanking contact the St Luke’s Timebank direct on 020 7549 8196.
« Contact your local Volunteer Centre
Volunteer centres offer 1:1 support in finding a volunteering opportunity and have good links with local organisations. You can find your local volunteer centre at Volunteering England.
The most local ones to City are Voluntary Action Islington and Volunteer Centre Camden.
« Be Proactive
Not all organisations will register their opportunities with the organisations/websites listed above, and sometimes organisations can take a little while to respond to enquiries from volunteers. The people who have the most interesting and rewarding volunteering experiences are the ones that put the most effort into locating them in the first place. Be creative, persistent and most of all do your research. We recommend
a) If you find an opportunity that you want to get involved in using any of the resources above and do not hear back from them, contact the organisation offering the position directly! If the contact details for the organisation are not displayed with the original advert, simply search for the organisation (e.g. on Google) to find their website, contact their volunteer co-ordinator and find out if they have their own alternative volunteer application procedures.
b) Once you have done some research and seen the range of volunteering opportunities that are available you can also do a general internet search to find a volunteering opportunity. For example you can type “volunteer children reading London”. This will direct you to a range of charities that work in literacy support. Make sure you do your research before making contact so you are fully informed about the organisation – their work, their reputation and what skills volunteers need to have. If the organisation you are interested in volunteering for is not advertising for volunteers you could also try sending a speculative CV and cover letter, followed up with a phone call. If you take this approach remember that some large or popular organisations such as Amnesty International will get 100s of applications so your chances of success may be limited. However if you have a specialist skill such as a second language they may prioritise you as a candidate.
Before you start volunteering make sure that you are aware of your rights and responsibilities as a volunteer reading the “
Rights & Responsibilities
” handout, also available on the City Volunteering website.
To discuss volunteering opportunities please contact the City Volunteering team on firstname.lastname@example.org or 020 7040 8992. Other resources that may be useful to you:
Career and Skills Development Service information sheets available on the website http://volunteering.city.ac.uk/volunteers/information and from the Centre in Drysdale Building.
The Art of Crazy Paving - a document produced by Student Volunteering England describing how volunteering can help you find paid employment after you finish your degree. Available to download from http://www.studentvol.org.uk/inform/publications.htm