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Volunteering with the Citizen Advice Epping Forest District

After spending my first year at university studying law, learning all the theoretical elements and digging my head into the textbooks, I decided to volunteer at the citizen advice bureau to get an understanding of how the law impacts people on a day to day basis. Walking through the corridor on my first day at Citizen Advice, formerly known as the Citizen Advice Bureau. I was greeted with smiling faces. I was introduced to a friendly and caring environment in which all my colleagues were an instrumental factor in helping me settle in.

Citizens Advice thrives on the help of volunteers and the generosity of strangers. Clients come with a whole array of problems including homelessness, mental health issues, benefits and debts. This opportunity has allowed me to see at a practical level how to deal face to face with some very vulnerable clients. Additionally, I have seen how Citizens Advice helps clients on a personal level through the way my supervisor goes to all lengths possible to find the best solutions for her clients. The dedication posed by the volunteers is unmatched and is in many ways very moving.

My main role involves administration work, filing, writing and drafting letters and helping the advisors with anything they may need. Within my fair share of time, I have witnessed many unexpected situations, clients that seem frazzled and confused about the course of action to take as well as annoyed and agitated. I have learned the way to proceed with such clients and trying to calm them down. When such situations arise being able to listen is a key skill while allowing them to explain their problems. However, the most satisfying element of being a volunteer is when you see a client that is joyful and happy after their problems are sorted.

I decided to volunteer as a co-editor of the Bureau Buzz for the Epping district. I was lucky enough to be accepted and worked on my first newsletter in June. My role involves editing the format and layout of the buzz before sending them out to the staff members.

Although our roles individually seem minuscule, when looking at the bigger picture, you realise that all efforts are helping someone else’s life. I may be a volunteer for a short amount of time, but I would love to stay for longer and see many more smiles.

Written By: Rabiya Khawaja

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Volunteering opportunity with Sense

I’ve had an email about volunteering opportunities from a City graduate who now works at the charity Sense with Sense’s Tower Hamlets Befriending Service. She says “We offer weekly short breaks for children and young people who are disabled and have other complex needs in Tower Hamlets. Our befriending sessions could not happen without our fantastic volunteers who support the children and young people to get involved in their community. I think that City students and graduates especially those studying Health Sciences/Psychology, Sociology or who are who are interested in a related career or in social care or education would be amazing volunteers.

Volunteering as a befriender is great fun! Befriending sessions take place weekly, so students can build on their existing skills and enjoy new activities and experiences.  Volunteers plan activities with their buddies based on shared interests – from sports to pottery, cooking to canoeing; and in doing so will aid a young person to develop confidence and independence”.

You can read more about volunteering as a befriender for Sense on their  webpage at https://www.sense.org.uk/content/volunteering-tower-hamlets

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Giving What We Can

coraliegwwc-logo-300x289Guest Blog by  Coralie Oddy, City alumnus 2016 and member of Giving What We Can

Plenty of students come to university wanting to change the world. I certainly did – throughout my time at City, I attended protests and rallies. I baked cakes, rattled tins and raised thousands of pounds for charities. It was fun, but doubts and fears quickly crept in. How did I know my money was reaching those who needed it the most? Was campaigning and volunteering a better use of my time than fundraising? How could I choose a career that would make a social impact? And most of all –Was any of this making a difference at all?

Faced with doubts like these, it’s easy to end up apathetic and cynical – or to try our best without making much of an impact. By and large we accept that the world’s biggest problems are insurmountable. We worry about government corruption and charities working ineffectively. In a way, I think this helps relieve us of a sense of responsibility – if there’s nothing we can do, we needn’t do anything. My doubts and fears didn’t stop me from wanting to change the world, but they almost stopped me trying.

Then I found Giving What We Can [1] and everything changed.

GWWC is a community of people who want to change the world and are committed to finding the best ways of achieving this. Specifically, they focus on which charities have the biggest impact on eliminating world poverty and do the most good with the donations they receive. Their research suggests that some charities are 1000 times more effective than others. This means choice of charity alone can be the difference between saving 1 life and saving 1000 lives.

Giving What We Can has the principles of Effective Altruism at its centre. EA is a social movement that applies evidence and reason to finding the most effective ways to improve the world [2]. Effective Altruism encourages individuals to consider their actions and act in ways that bring about the greatest positive impact, based on their values. The London Effective Altruism and Giving What We Can chapter [3] holds regular meet-ups, which are great for meeting likeminded people and discussing how best to do good better together. Continue Reading

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Law Student Help are looking for Law Student Volunteers & Student Ambassadors!

Do you want to become a Student Ambassador?
Do you want to Volunteer for an upcoming legal website?
Then Get Involved with Law Student Help!

 Law Student Help is a newly launched website aiming

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Tech students: Do more = Be different = Get hired

Strange things are happening in the world of recruiting placement and graduate Computer Science students. It’s generally agreed that there aren’t enough Computer Science related students being produced by UK universities to meet the demand employers have to recruit them. So employers can’t get enough of you. On the other hand the largest number of unfilled grad scheme vacancies (11.8%) in 2013/2014 were with IT and telecommunications employers*. Why were 1 in 10 vacancies left unfilled? Employers aren’t lowering their standards and they want something more from you as a Computer Science student.

What’s that something more? Two things specifically.

Firstly they are still looking for that golden combination of tech ability and the ability to work with others and communicate well. The stereotype of a nerdy uncommunicative computer science student who only works on their own is a myth and employers know that but they still want reassurance. And more than just your examples of working together on group projects in university. Everyone has that opportunity. Instead look at other ways to demonstrate your collaboration and communication skills. Volunteering opportunities like CodeClub and paid roles in initiatives like FunTech.co.uk are opportunities to teach technology to kids and are excellent ways to make yourself stand out from all the other computer scientists and pick up one of those 1 in 10 empty vacancies.

Secondly they are looking for computer science students that live and breathe technology. That means doing more than your degree. Are you entering hackathons? Are you coding in open source communities like GitHub and online collaborative games design communities like GameSalad.com? All activities that, incidentally, help you develop your collaboration and communication skills as well!

If either of these don’t quite match your own tech career ambitions there’s always tech volunteering opportunities via do-it.org where you can search for opportunities to volunteer in your area under the headings of “IT”, “Technology” and “Web development”.

Do more = Be different = Get hired.

*Association of Graduate Recruiters (AGR) Winter Survey 2014

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How careers advice and volunteering have developed my skills as an International Politics and Human Rights student

Guest Blog by Ronja KastbergRonja Kastberg 2

MA International Politics and Human Rights

 

My experience with City University’s Careers Service:

The first time I went to City University Career I had no expectations whatsoever. All I knew was that everyone around me seemed to have gotten a lot of work experience during their studies, and with my MA ending soon I felt discouraged and stressed about the fact that I had to compete on the job marked very soon with all these highly qualified people.

After attending the Career workshop on improving my CV and cover letter as advised by the Careers Service, as well as having attended two sessions with a career consultant about what jobs to apply for, I applied for six volunteering positions to help improve my chances of getting a job within my field of study. I got offered all six of them despite that fact that I had close to no work experience. I am now currently working as a research coordinator for Researching Asylum in London and as youth project volunteer and English teacher at the Refugee Council in London.

If it hadn’t been for the advice I received from the Careers Service,  I wouldn’t have had the tools to write a great CV or the confidence to even apply for the jobs that I am currently working in.

I would recommend everyone to go talk to the Careers Service if you are in any way in doubt about your future. They really do help.

 

 

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Guest blog post: 4 extra-curricular activities that employers value

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Guest blog post by Seb Atkinson

From Selesti, Creative Digital Agency http://www.selesti.com/

“Whether you’re approaching the end of your degree or starting a new academic year in September, adding extra-curricular activities to your CV is a great way to stand out when applying for jobs, and give you some great new experiences to talk about in your interview. Below are four examples of some skills that really add value to your CV and can really make a difference to your job applications!

Web skills

Continue Reading