Guest Blog: Why Volunteering is Selfish (and why you should do it)

Please note that the views expressed in this blog are those of the author and unless specifically stated are not those of SOAS Careers Service. If you consider this content to be in breach of the SOAS values, please alert careers@soas.ac.uk.

This guest blog comes from Kimberly Hovish, Staff Learning and Development Officer at SOAS, University of London. 

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I’ve volunteered on and off in various roles for about 20 years – not because I’m a ‘good person’ (which is what people tend to assume!) but because I’m pretty selfish. The fact is, volunteering helps me by enhancing my quality of life, providing training opportunities and making me more marketable.

Antidepressant qualities

Studies have shown that volunteering increases happiness and general wellbeing and decreases depression.  Volunteering also helps people appreciate what they have through downwards social comparisons. My personal favourite is the feeling that I’m making a contribution to the society in which I live. I currently volunteer with a charity that facilitates community mediations to resolve conflict. Words can’t describe seeing people who entered a room hating each other (with resentments building up over months or years) leaving the same room two hours later smiling and inviting each other over for tea. You know that warm, fuzzy feeling? Yeah, it’s that. I cannot tell you how amazing it feels to know YOU made that happen.

Free training

Whether you want to change careers, get promoted, or learn something new just for the sake of it, volunteering will give you this opportunity – for free! Through various volunteering roles I’ve attended formal training workshops in mediation, mentoring, and solution-focussed coaching practice, all of which have been fantastic learning experiences and didn’t cost me a penny! But the most useful experience I gained was through volunteering at a women’s sexual violence support service in my late 20’s, when my paid work wasn’t progressing much. I received invaluable, ‘on-the-job’ training and experience in: being part of an executive committee; heading up an organisation; managing finances and fundraising projects; spearheading a marketing campaign; chairing meetings; and responding to people in crisis situations (to name just a few things….). No formal workshops could ever have provided me with the real world experience I gained during this time. It was the most challenging role I’ve ever had, as well as the most rewarding, and my confidence skyrocketed!

Sounding awesome in job interviews

You know in a job interview your mind goes blank when you are asked things like ‘Give me an example of when you have dealt with a difficult situation’ or ‘Tell me about a time when you have demonstrated your time management skills’? Volunteering means you will actually look forward to these questions being asked! Difficult situation? TICK. Teamwork? TICK. Time management? TICK. Communication skills? TICK. For instance, when asked in job interviews for an example of time management, I like to use volunteering as proof I can successfully manage full-time work with other commitments. Working alongside other volunteers demonstrates teamwork and a willingness to go the extra mile (especially as you’re not being paid!). Dealing with people’s conflicts, whether internal or external, shows good listening skills, problem solving skills and communication skills. You will NAIL those awkward interview questions with a bit of volunteering experience!

If you’re feeling a little selfish and you’d like to learn more about how you can volunteer and become happier, more skilled and marketable contact Emma Frampton on volunteering@soas.ac.uk. Head to the Volunteering pages on MySOAS Student to find out more about volunteering.

This guest article has been written by Kimberly Hovish (kh37@soas.ac.uk), Staff Learning and Development Officer at SOAS, University of London

All you need to know about Graduate Entrepreneur Tier 1 Visas

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Every year, SOAS has a small number of endorsement licenses that mean we can endorse our enterprising graduates.  These are exclusively available to Tier 4 visa holders who are current students.

The process for applying is simple.

If you have a viable and innovative business or enterprise idea and want to take this to market in the UK, this is a great opportunity for you.  The idea must show visible benefits to the local community.

As part of the application process for endorsement from SOAS, you will be expected to submit the following documentation:

  • A business plan summarising your business idea, market research, marketing plan, customer analysis and pricing model.
  • A 12 month financial forecast
  • CV
  • Covering Letter

Shortlisted applicants will be expected to present their business idea to a panel. The next deadline for application is 11.59pm on May 31st 2017.

Before you apply you must first meet with the Student Advisor (Immigration and Finance) to determine your eligibility for the Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur visa.

Jai Shah, Careers Consultant

SOAS Careers is bringing Volunteering to the limelight & making sure that this year’s Microplacements are better than ever!

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SOAS Careers is excited to announce that two awesome new graduate interns have recently joined the team. Staying until this summer’s Graduation, each intern has taken on specific projects to help transform students’ experience of Careers at SOAS.

Recent Anthropology graduate Emma Frampton has been amping up volunteering provision for SOAS students and recent grads. Having been awed by the great volunteering activity that’s already taking place on campus, Emma’s working on bringing together a real community of students and alumni who are changing the world. She’s particularly enjoyed the chance to liaise between students and professional and academic staff.

Having graduated with a degree in African Language & Culture with Swahili, Rupert Wilkinson has been taking a look at internship provision at SOAS. He’s actively been involved in some of the unique programmes on offer for SOAS students, including Microplacments – a careers education programme for second year Undergraduates from a range of departments, culminating in a two week placement. Rupert’s also taken a look at the Careers events run at SOAS, and how to optimise these for students.

Careers provision at SOAS has massively benefited from the great work both Emma and Rupert have put in so far. Having recent grads in the team has offered an extra depth, as the interns are so much more aware of the immediate issues that are of obvious concern to the student body. The pair have excelled at talking to students, graduates, employers and SOAS staff alike and will no doubt continue to have a real impact on Careers at SOAS.

Emma and Rupert can be found in the brand new Careers Learning Zone in SL62, Paul Webley Wing – and are on hand for any Careers questions you may have.

Alexis Fromageot

Are you changing the world, or know someone who is?

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… Then we want to hear from you!

SOAS Careers is excited to run this year’s Make A Difference Awards. The Awards are a unique opportunity to recognise the awesome talents we have here at SOAS, and the amazing contributions you make to supporting other’s lives.

We’ve got four Awards this year, and you can either self-nominate or suggest a classmate or group for any of these:

  • Volunteer of the Year
  • Volunteer Team of the Year
  • Student Entrepreneur of the Year
  • Social Enterprise Business plan of the Year

Each winner will be decided by a panel of judges from across SOAS. All nominees will be invited to a celebration event in May, with prizes for the finalists in each category.

This really is your chance to spread the word about some of the great work that’s happening here at SOAS, and bring together a real community of change-makers on campus.

Head here to nominate by midnight Tuesday 9 May, and spread the word with #soasawards.

Alexis Fromageot

Something for the Weekend: Easter Holiday

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It’s coming to the end of the first week of the Easter break, and you’re no doubt still eyeing up that seemingly never ending pile of essays and revision that you’d promised yourself you’d get done this week. And to top it off, that glorious sun seems to have reached its quota for the British springtime…….

So what better day than today, #NationalKindnessDay, to spend 2 minutes reading about how to make a sucky day a little less sucky.

We’re here at SOAS Careers for everything to do with your next steps after SOAS – and are on hand to help you make that journey as smooth as possible. We’re all moved in to our shiny new Careers Zone in SL62 (Paul Webley Wing), so swing by any time for a quick chat.

Alexis Fromageot

 

Have Your Say about Volunteering

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At SOAS Careers we’re keen to make sure we support you as best as we possibly can. The Volunteering Service at SOAS Careers is currently carrying out a survey of current volunteering amongst SOAS students.

The survey only takes 5 minutes to fill out – whether you’re a regular volunteer or if you’re just interested in the idea of helping others. Spread the word to your cohort!

Click here for the survey!

Alexis Fromageot

SOAS Make A Difference Awards

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SOAS Careers is excited to announce the launch of the 2017 Make a Difference Awards. These awards recognise the talents of SOAS students and contributions they make to improve other people’s lives.

There are 4 Awards this year:

  • Volunteer of the Year
  • Volunteer Team of the Year
  • Student Entrepreneur of the Year
  • Social Enterprise Business plan of the Year

This is your chance nominate either yourself or a fellow student or student group that you know for an award. The winner for each award will be decided by a panel of judges from across SOAS. All nominees will be invited to a celebration event in May, with prizes for the finalists in each category.

More than that though, nominating those making a difference is a fantastic way to spread the word about what they’re achieving and bring together a community of change-makers on campus.

Nominate here by midnight, Tuesday 9 May, and spread the word with #soasawards

Alexis Fromageot

Something for the Weekend: Masters Week

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As we hurtle ever closer to the end of term, here’s a guilt-free way to add 2 seconds on to your essay procrastination. To celebrate all things further education for Careers week, we’re taking a look at what Academics Say…!

Inspired to go on and study but not quite sure how you want your next steps after to SOAS to look? Not to worry – come by SL57 and we can have a chat about where to even start thinking about the future.

Alexis Fromageot

 

Insight from Your Fellow Student: Mastering Your Career

As part of our Student Insight blog series, Zipporah Gene,MSc Development Studies (graduating 2017) shares a candid account of how she landed her new role as a charity account manager.
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We’ve all been there. The deadlines, the assignments, the minefield that is university life.
How in God’s name are we expected to pass exams, study course materials, and plot our future careers?
Unlike my undergraduate years, studying for a full time MA has really amped up the pressure. Three years of naive bliss and procrastination, has given way to a mindless panic-stricken year long dash to the finish line. I’ve woken up in sweats at night wondering what on earth I’ll be doing a year from now. The pressure can be crippling.
Because let’s face it, if you’re studying for your MA, chances are you want more. You’re not satisfied with minimum wage, or a job that may or may not provide career progression. You want it all. It’s that kind of mindset that ultimately means you’ve set everything up with the belief that you only have one year to get everything right.
I won’t even begin to pretend that I’ve got the whole work-life balance schtick in order, but I’ve definitely been given a helping hand, courtesy of the SOAS Careers Team.
Frustrated that I wasn’t getting replies from employers, I booked myself into a CV workshop.
Thank God I did.
After months of self-doubt, anxiety and self-flagellation, I had a eureka moment – the CV that I was sending out needed a lot of work.
It’s easy to get tunnel vision, when your Saturday nights are stuck up in the oxygen deprived heights of Floor A, surviving on a diet of gluten-free energy bars and vegan wraps, so I’ve forgiven myself and chalked it all up to experience. But in hindsight, it is comical how much I tortured myself, when all I should have done was ask for help.
My initial interview was booked on the day (be sure to book early in the morning) but I also popped back in numerous times to get feedback on my CV. After several re-writes, a lot hand-holding and talks on streamlining my job hunting strategy, I’m proud to say that I have a job. Scratch that. I have a career.
SOAS careers has helped me land an internship, which led to a job, which is now the role I can foresee doing for may years to come. No matter how qualified you are of how proficient in your field you think you are, we all need allies and I’m glad I found mine.
They’re a thankless bunch down in SL57 but they know what they’re talking about. So talk to them.
Seeing as how it’s Master’s week, I say, ‘become the master of your career’.
Be sure to follow SOAS Careers on Twitter and Facebook, so you don’t miss out on any internships, vacancies and all things careers related.
Zipporah Gene
Please note that the views expressed in this blog are those of the author and unless specifically stated are not those of SOAS Careers Service. If you consider this content to be in breach of the SOAS values, please alert careers@soas.ac.uk.

What’s on this Week: Masters Week

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As we head closer to the end of term, we take a long look at the options available to Masters students – whether you’ve got bags of experience or if you’re stepping out in to work for the first time!

Not a Masters student? No bother – come by Careers in SL57 and we can still talk about your next steps.

Here’s what’s on for Masters week:

Wed 15 March, 1 – 2pm, S118, Paul Webley Wing: Getting Started with Career Development: http://bit.ly/2mRMAJm

Wed 15 March, 2 – 3pm, S118, Paul Webley Wing: Refreshing your Interview Skills: http://bit.ly/2mRMaCL

Fri 17 March, 2 – 3.30pm, SL62 (next to Careers in SL57), Paul Webley Wing: Opportunities for People who Wish to Live and Work in Korea with EPIK: http://bit.ly/2nvOVqD

Fri 17 March, 3.30 – 5pm, SL62 (next to Careers in SL57), Paul Webley Wing:  ICRC Presentation for Language Students: http://bit.ly/2nl0qBU

See you there!

Alexis Fromageot