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24th Oct, 2022

Jack Ireland
Jack Ireland
Job Title
Content Marketing Executive

As university places, apprenticeship options and job opportunities become increasingly more competitive, it’s imperative that students learn new skills or develop connections to give them the best possible chance of securing the next step in their career. 

Gaining real-world work experience through volunteering is a great way for students to build skills, increase employability and enjoy a range of other benefits that will help them develop. 

Beyond supporting the local community, volunteering has various personal benefits for students, including helping career paths, improving college and university applications and providing social opportunities. 

In this article, we examine the main benefits of volunteering for students and how it will help them as they begin to think about their careers.

Volunteering benefits for students 

There are plenty of benefits for students looking to heighten their experiences through volunteering. These benefits include:

Gain worthwhile experiences 

Volunteering demonstrates a commitment to a cause, as well as a proactive nature, an ability to communicate effectively and work as part of a team. It also gives people the opportunity to have new experiences without entering the world of work. Developing worthwhile experiences can give students a unique perspective that may be helpful in their career planning, including learning more about what industries they like, where their strengths lie, and what they’d like to do as a career. 

Community focus 

In its simplest terms, volunteering is about giving back to those in need and contributing to a community. More often than not, the art of volunteering can showcase to students the value of their community, bringing them closer to those around them.  

Choosing to volunteer for a local business or charity cannot only add value to a student’s own experience within a community, but is also an easy way for them to become an active member of society. Volunteering may even introduce students to new cultural experiences. 

Make beneficial connections 

One of the most crucial benefits of volunteering for students is being able to meet others and make new connections, both in a personal and professional capacity. Volunteering provides regular social interaction outside of the study environment, making connections with like-minded people easier.   

If a student volunteers in an industry in which they’d like to study, it can help them gain a better understanding of its requirements, plus it puts them in touch with people who have experience and connections in the sector. 

Develop skills 

The training and hands-on experience gained while volunteering is second to none and can help students learn new skills and build on existing ones. Volunteering allows them to develop soft skills which are essential in the next phase of their life, from work to study. 

According to a report by Education and Employers, 80% of volunteers reported benefits for communication, influencing and relationship skills, with over half also benefitting from leadership and other skills. 

Volunteering has been shown to have a particularly positive impact on leadership, communication, and fundraising skills. Depending on the type of volunteering, students can gain practical experience and increase their employability and accountability skills necessary to life beyond the school gates. 

Enhance post-school applications 

Whether your students are applying to university or college, volunteering can help them stand out from the crowd and help them showcase to further education providers that they are willing to put the time and effort in to better themselves. 

It may be the case that most high school students haven’t much work experience to draw on when they apply to college, further highlighting how volunteering offers a great way to show a student’s interest in a field beyond mere academics. 

Skills received from volunteering can help prepare students for a career in what they're interested in. For example, if a student is interested in becoming a vet, they may want to pursue a position at an animal shelter. Or if they want to study law, taking part in legal volunteer work can set them apart from other applicants for the course. This experience can enhance a CV or university application. 

Understand passion  

More often than not, students choose to study a degree without really knowing what the subject would entail in terms of a career or what they want to do with their working life. It could be something they think sounds interesting, or a subject they are good at. Understanding where their passion lies will help them in the long term, and volunteering is a way of truly figuring out what that passion is. 

Volunteering is the best way to test out a passion and determine if it’s worth pursuing as a career.

The industries or disciplines for volunteering opportunities 

Volunteering is not only a great way to help improve the lives of others but can also help students get started on their chosen career paths. There is a misconception that volunteering is reserved for students who want to pursue a career in the charitable sector or non-profit organisations. 

There are many volunteer opportunities that can fit a variety of interests. Many organisations are open to offering volunteering placements, including schools, charities, and conservation, giving students work experience in a specific industry, and a chance to gain insight into different roles and career paths. 

When deciding where to give their time, students should focus on what they are passionate about and how their skills could create value at an organisation. In the post-pandemic era, opportunities for online volunteer work for students have increased tenfold, especially for roles in digital that includes content creation, web development, and graphic design. 

Volunteering abroad 

There are plenty of student volunteer opportunities in the UK and overseas. Volunteer work abroad can help immerse a student in different cultures, communities and life perspectives, giving them a unique opportunity for personal development. 

There are many volunteer-abroad programmes that involve animal care, childcare, community action, education, and medical projects. Volunteering overseas can last from a few weeks up to a year, with opportunities to give back to parts of the world in new and innovative ways. 

If a student hasn’t decided what they want to do beyond finishing school or college, taking a gap year to volunteer abroad may broaden their horizons, and the experience can ultimately benefit them personally and professionally. 

Volunteering has a proven benefit to both physical and mental wellbeing, alongside offering great social opportunities, helping students in shaping their future. 

Help prepare your students in Year 10 to 13 transition from education to the workplace with our digital, complete careers education curriculum Gateway to work.