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

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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.  If you are shortlisted, the judging panel which you will be asked to present at is taking place on Thursday 29th June between 2pm – 4pm (each presentation slot will be 20 minutes maximum).

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.

For support through the application process, you are welcome to book an enterprise appointment with the SOAS Careers Service.  These are available on Friday afternoons.

To apply, please submit the requested documents to studententerprise@soas.ac.uk.

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