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Volunteering Case Studies


UCL has the largest volunteering department of any London university, and one of the largest in the country. The VSU exists to help students get involved in a range of volunteering activities, and to ensure they get the most out of the time they spend helping others. 

Certainly, our surveys of UCL student volunteers show that they give themselves an edge by developing new skills and gaining valuable experience.

We tracked down seven UCL graduates to ask them about how volunteering had helped them in their careers.

 


Radhika
Radhika Handa

Radhika Handa was at UCL from 2003-2006 for her undergraduate Law degree and stayed on for her Masters in Law. She volunteered with the Citizenship & Crime project and with Childline. She is currently a trainee barrister based at Coram Chambers in London, specialising in Family Law.

'Working with children in local schools from diverse backgrounds, and also dealing with often distressed children and parents at Childline, helped me to understand the emotional stresses that my clients in my current job are facing. Being quick on your feet is an invaluable skill as a barrister, especially in the arena of family law.'

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Lalita
Lalita Mondkar

Lalita Mondkar volunteered with the Fitzrovia Neighbourhood Association, conducting social research about the area and led the 'Clubs2Communities' project, and had experience with mentoring and tutoring through Widening Participation. She is currently working on the RBS Global Banking and Markets Graduate Programme, and still volunteers as a youth worker in Harrow.

'I picked up useful skills as a volunteer. Conducting social research, I gained practical experience analysing and researching Fitzrovia and presenting data in suitable formats, which was then used for grant applications. Having just completed my first year in Linguistics at the time, this was a new experience for me. The Clubs2Communities project involved working with many clubs and societies at UCL, and I loved the collaborative aspect of project work and meeting different people in the UCL community who were enthusiastic about volunteering.'

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JustinLow
Justin Low

Justin studied Computer Science at UCL, and helped a number of charities with their IT needs. He now works as a software analyst/developer for M&G Investments, a leading asset management firm in the city.

'A classic situation for a student is often the catch-22 predicament: an employer requires somebody with experience to get a job but in order to get experience you need to get a job. Volunteering offers an alternative, a means to get a variety of relevant experiences dependent on your career orientation usually at a pace that suits you.'

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Lauren
Lauren Simmonds

Lauren Simmonds graduated from UCL with an English degree in 2008, and now works for Look Ahead Housing and Care, a large social housing provider in London and the South East. Whilst at UCL, she volunteered with - and then led - a project surveying the needs of homeless people. She also volunteered in schools with The Book Club. 'I definitely wouldn't have got the job I have now if it wasn't for the volunteering I did with the VSU. Volunteering has helped prove that I have a vested interest in my career field. Every time I have completed a job application or attended an interview I have always referred back to the volunteering I did whilst at UCL. It gave me experience of working with loads of different types of people - from teachers in schools, to young people and external service providers.'

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Rajarshi
Rajarshi Sahai

Rajarshi Sahai completed his Masters in Urban Development Planning in 2008. He now works on a DFID funded project in the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh, working on development plans for the major cities of the state. When he was at UCL, he was involved with London Sustainability Exchange.'My belief in volunteerism was definitely reaffirmed whilst at UCL. I gained valuable work experience and solid credentials for my CV in the process. Moreover, volunteering gave me an inroad into places where my lack of experience would have been a barrier. There are multitude of indirect benefits to be had from volunteering both in terms of career, social bonding and the joy that comes with helping others. Certainly, it's been one significant factor in getting me my current job.' 

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JoBrunker
Jo Brunker

'My PhD in the Department of Medical Physics and Bioengineering is not directly related to any of the volunteering I have been involved in, but already I am benefiting from the self-confidence and skills (such as time-management) that I have acquired.

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Harry
Harry Chapman

"I would suggest that prospective volunteers think carefully about what they want to get from the experience (in terms of the timing of the work, the type of work, the sector the work is in). Once you are sure on this you can offer a much more stable commitment to those who you volunteer for."

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