Guest Blog: Student Volunteering Week 2016: Celebration Event at City Hall

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

Monday afternoon, representatives from the charity, government and business sectors gathered at London’s City Hall to celebrate Student Volunteering Week.Veronica Wadley, Senior Mayoral Advisor for Volunteering opened the event. She spoke about the importance of student volunteering to the mayor’s vision for London, particularly in light of London’s status as European Volunteering Capital 2016.

Rob Wilson, Minister for Civil Society, stressed the importance of volunteering to employment in later life, telling us that “social action is linked with enhanced employability skills. You’re 3 times more likely to get a job interview if you volunteer.”

Rob Wilson, Minister for Civil Society

Joy Carter, Chair of Guild HE and Vice Chancellor of the University of Winchester, said that it’s crucial for colleges and universities to invest in student volunteering to make it accessible to every student alongside their studies. She shared examples from her own university where students are encouraged at every opportunity to get out into the local community and give something back.

Jess Tinkler from the University of Southampton receives her certificate from Sara Fernandez

The event brought together all 10 students longlisted for the Student Volunteer of the Year Award. Richard Brooks, VP Union Development for NUS, Sara Fernandez, Executive Director of Student Hubs, and Joe Crook, Student Volunteering Network, shared the longlist and shortlist’s accomplishments with our audience. It was Liam Rodgers of Sheffield Hallam University who was announced as the winner, recognising his outstanding commitment to social action demonstrated by Liam through Upscribe, a creative writing project he founded for homeless people and other marginalised groups.

The other four shortlisted students — Jo, Kathleen, Samuel and Zoe — were also recognised for dedicating their time to causes they care about…

  • Jo Devall from the University of Plymouth is a Volunteer Lifeboat Crewman for the RNLI in Plymouth, and former President of UPSU SAINTS Kickboxing Club.
  • Kathleen Crymble from South Lanarkshire College established the Back to School Bank in East Kilbride in summer 2015.
  • Samuel Wong from Royal Holloway is a Cabinet Office Volunteer Advisor, Project Leader for numerous volunteering projects, and is involved with the local Police Independent Advisory Group and Young Community Leaders Network.
  • Zoe Webber from Goldsmiths University is the President of RE:mind mental health society, and is dedicated to volunteering to help students to improve their mental health.

The longlist with Richard Brooks (NUS), Sara Fernandez (Student Hubs) and Rob Wilson (Minister for Civil Society)

Well done to all of our award finalists, as well as our longlisted candidates. It was wonderful to see them all come together at last, and the mutual admiration among them was clear. In a heartwarming twist, Liam pledged a third of his £1,000 prize money to Kathleen’s Back to School Bank project, saying that reading about it almost brought him to tears.

You can hear an interview with Liam as part of BBC Radio 1’s #1MillionHours campaignhere.

Award winner Liam Rodgers

Yesterday was just the start, however. Over 250 Student Volunteering Week events are taking place this week, involving over 14,000 students from 125 colleges and universities around the country. You can read all about the events on our What’s On page.

Be sure to keep up with what’s happening around the country on Twitter andFacebook. Let us know what you’re up to using #SVW2016 and share your motivations for volunteering using #IVolunteerBecause.

Happy Student Volunteering Week 2016!

The Student Volunteering Week Team

The national SVW team from Student Hubs & NUS coordinate SVW activities for the nationwide campaign, 22-28 Feb 2016



Reason #1: Personal Development

why volunteer-

67% (of employers) report that entry level candidates who have voluntary experience demonstrate more employability skills (according to the CIPD Unlocking Talent Report)

The skills they cite include: communication, teamwork, and understanding the community. But the list definitely don’t end there – you can develop soft skills through volunteering but also more specific skills relating to the area of work you hope to move into. It’s this mix of hard and soft skills that make volunteering an excellent space to develop transferable and work ready skills.

Interestingly it’s also an excellent way to demonstrate those skills – employers don’t just want to hear you confidently tell them you can work in a team, market a product or that you’re passionate about tackling education equality, they want to see that you can demonstrate those things. All of which you can do, flexibly and with little experience, through finding the right volunteering opportunity.

Finally, it’s a way to test what you want to do. Think you’d like to volunteer with children? Volunteer with a children’s charity, see if it’s something that you enjoy and comes naturally. Wondering if you’d be good with social media? Find a society that needs someone to up their social media presence and use it as a space to learn.

Volunteering is a flexible, interesting way to be able to get ready for leaving university: whether you want a job that changes the world, or not. And all volunteering counts: spending your time with a local charity, running at society in the union, campaigning, fundraising – anything at all where you’re getting stuff done on your own steam.

It’s Student Volunteering Week this week (22nd-29th February) and we’re celebrating with taster volunteering all week. Find out how you can get involved here. For volunteering all year round check out the Careers newsletter, Student Hubs at SOAS or email to find the right opportunity for you.


Guest blog: Great With Disability Jan 2016

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

GreatWithDisability_Logo_2014_CMYK-01 (1)

With the second semester underway, you may now be preparing for interviews or applying for summer internships. is a really useful resource for students with disabilities and long-term health conditions. You’ll find advice on topics such as how to inform an employer about your disability, requesting adjustments during the recruitment process, and explaining mitigating circumstances.

Our regularly updated News section provides unique insights from employers, disabled individuals working with a disability, students and recent graduates. Popular article topics include Living and Working with Depression; a Law student shares his coping strategies, Working with an Invisible Illness; a Graduate Management Trainee provides her top tips for managing an invisible illness at work, and Asperger’s Graduates: 10 Things You Need to Know; a recent graduate offers his advice for navigating the recruitment process with AS.

If you’re interested in gaining a genuine insight into what it would be like to work for an organisation, our case studies profile disabled employees enjoying successful careers. Examples include a Teach First Selection Manager with a learning disability, who outlines the support made available by her employer to enable her to excel in her career; a Trainee Solicitor at Ashurst with a visual impairment, who talks about changing his career path after losing his sight at 18 and a Consultant IT Adviser at EY with Cerebal Palsy, who describes how his summer internship at EY led to a permanent position.

So if you consider yourself to have a disability or a long-term health condition and are ambitious about your future, join the GWD community at

 Guest blog by Hannah Birkett from Great With Disability

What I wish I’d known – Shishir Malhotra



impact picture

Shishir Malhotra studied MSc Development Studies at SOAS in 2013 and currently works as an Impact Associate at LGT Venture Philanthropy. LGT Venture Philanthropy is an impact investor supporting organisations with outstanding social and environmental impact. Working in six continents, projects range from those that provide loans to hundreds of schools for children who can’t afford to attend in India to supporting dentistry clinic provisions in rural areas of Latin America and an apprenticeship agency in Europe.

How did you get into this role?
I started my career working for Barnardo’s the children’s charity on the Business development strategy team, it was great but I realised that I wanted to learn more about the world, so I came to SOAS to study for an MSc in Development Studies and I really enjoyed my time at SOAS. I then went to work for Save The Children as a campaign assistant and it was during this time that I attended a beginners course in Economics at the School of Economics Science – SES and met one of LGT’s directors who then invited me to their office for a chat and I was then offered a research/due diligence and advisory type role.

What advice would you give to students just starting our
My advice to students starting out in their career will be to network, don’t be afraid to talk to people who are doing things that you might find interesting. I found my current job through networking at an event I attended.

Work experience is also very important. Employers value the experience you can bring to the table. Also work experience could help you decide what sort of job you want to do and provide opportunities for you to develop the necessary skills and knowledge.

Lastly, I would say to student, challenge yourself, ask questions, learning something new. For example, attend events, forums, short course of areas that interest you. I got my job through networking with one of the lecturers at a short course delivered by SES. I learnt so much from attending such events and I encourage students to do the same.

For further information please visit the SOAS Careers webpage or call us on 020 7898 4115. Alternatively pop into room R101, College Building, for a chat.

Diana Omololu
Careers Consultant

Happy (Chinese) New Year!

Chinese New Year envelope

Here’s hoping that this shares a message of good wishes (and if you can read it, please let us know what it says!)

You may know today is Chinese New Year, so now might be a time to have a think about the New Year’s resolutions you made a month or so back and decide which of them are working and which of them were a bit over-optimistic.

If you’d like a lucky dip Careers resolution, then do pop into the Careers Service today (101 in the main building) where we will make you a New Year’s gift of a lucky envelope like the one above with a #toptiptuesday idea to help you with your Careers thinking.

Hope to see you soon – Kung Hei Fat Choi!!

Philippa Hewett

Free stuff!!

Come & see all the resources and goodies we have available for you!

We’re open all week, with careers consultations running from 2.30 – 4.30pm and 2-4pm on Fridays! We are open throughout Reading Week (8-12 Feb) so please drop by and find out more about how we can help you. You can also pick up a free pen, post-it notes and careers guides.


Jo Cooper

Robert Burns and Careers?

Benedict the piper


At a recent Burns night supper (famous Scottish poet, annual excuse to eat haggis), one of the participants read from his poem ‘Ode to a Louse’ which has the famous line:

‘Oh would the gift the giftie gie’us, to see ourselves as others see us’ which loosely translated reads as:

‘feedback from others is a gift’

It made me think of all the ways we share feedback and about how helpful feedback delivered constructively can have a really positive impact.

Often, feedback is seen as ‘constructive’ which is often another word for ‘destructive’, or ‘I am going to show you how clever I am at spotting your faults’.

In the world of Careers, a rather kinder approach is often to use feedback to focus on the strengths demonstrated, and then review with the other person how to build on those strengths rather than starting by spotting all the perceived weaknesses.

And as for the louse Robert burns saw in a lady’s bonnet? Did he tell her? Find out here:

And if you want to know more about working with effective feedback, here’s a great place to start:

Philippa Hewett.