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5 reasons why volunteering is the perfect gig for students


Taking time out to help others can be its own reward, but add in opportunities to skill up and volunteering through your uni years becomes one seriously smart move.

With a growing number of students opting for voluntary experience, sitting it out could mean kissing off everything from a better CV to feeling warm and fuzzy. Been meaning to do it forever? Save the Student shares five top reasons why your uni years were made for giving: get inspired, then get out there!

1. Because life moves pretty fast

From hustling to pay rent to buckling down to the books, being a student is no laze-fest. On the other hand, you’ll never have this much flexibility (or the vacation time) again – so if a break from the rat race or corporate treadmill appeals, factor it in sooner rather than later!
If that sounds like an excuse to get in as many holidays as you can, gap year or vacation volunteering comes with a sense of purpose that tourism alone doesn’t quite match. In fact, helping disadvantaged communities while you’re at it can square the cost of a RTW trip as something more meaningful – to you and future employers.

2. Volunteering boosts your job chances

According to research from Deloitte, voluntary work tips the scales in your favour when it comes to getting hired. Not only are employers are more likely to choose candidates with volunteering experience, 85% of them are “willing to overlook other résumé flaws when a candidate includes volunteer work”. That may be because volunteering gives you responsibility, leadership and problem solving skills you don’t always get from casual or part-time work, and gives you a more rounded background than if you just stick with studying alone.
Jumping into voluntary projects also gives you a means of trying out jobs and gaining hands-on experience, and could even get your foot in the door with some recruiters. It also extends your professional network – and when it comes to finding work or switching roles later on, that helps!

3. It breaks you out of your comfort bubble

The confidence that comes from throwing yourself into new situations can put the challenges of academic life or living away from home into perspective. That means less stressing about the small stuff, more resilience when it comes to solving problems – and plenty of icebreaker material! Volunteering abroad is especially good for developing your financial nouse, from being able to budget to making your money go further (and not panicking in between!).
While there’s nothing wrong with being comfy and sticking with what you know, like and can handle, switching things up with a voluntary role can show you what you’re made of. Sometimes, that can end up taking you down an entirely unexpected life path, from changing your career path to starting a volunteering-inspired business – opportunities that might otherwise pass you by.

4. You’ll get better with languages

You don’t have to travel to volunteer – in fact, you can get all the benefits from local projects in your own neighbourhood. Going abroad has an extra plus, however: language immersion! If you’ve already gained lingo skills from books, apps or at school, being able to get by ‘for real’ can be a huge buzz. It’s also an opportunity to improve on what you know and edge closer to native proficiency – a level of skill which can make a tangible difference to future job opportunities.

5. It makes you more mindful

Mindfulness is increasingly popular, probably because it appears to plug into how happy or contented we feel. Now, volunteering alone isn’t going to dismantle the Matrix, but it can give you a new perspective and even benefit your mental health. Living with less, experiencing other cultures, and feeling like you’ve made a meaningful contribution all broaden your view of the world – and make you feel more part of it.

Volunteering is the ultimate win-win: you can make local communities better off by giving your time, attention or labour, or even just by showing up and mixing in. If it leaves you feeling happier too, that just means you’re doing it right!

Guest blog written by Ruth Bushi, an editor at Save the Student – the UK's largest student money advice site.