Andrew: from volunteering to employment
One of our volunteers, Andrew, talks about his journey from volunteering to employment after graduating just before the pandemic hit
I wanted to start volunteering because I’d just graduated. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do but I knew I needed to get some experience. I went to one of VCH’s volunteer fairs and had a meeting with Amalia, who happened to mention that there was a role going at VCH in communications. Then the pandemic hit. It was really good to be able to carry on doing that during the pandemic because otherwise I wouldn’t have known what to do with myself to be honest!
I’d been volunteering with Hackney Museum, working with school children on their school trips, but then everything shut down and that stopped. Then from that point I worked on VCH communications like newsletters and social media posts. These were sent out to current volunteers as well as local people who weren’t currently volunteering to encourage them to help out in their communities during the pandemic. It was a really good experience. I had a theoretical understanding of communications from university, where I studied science communication, but gaining those practical skills has been really invaluable.
I now have a paid role at VCH in communications and the work I do is almost a direct transfer of those skills I developed during my volunteering. Volunteering has definitely given me a lot more confidence in knowing I can do this stuff. Having come straight out of university and then not being able to do very much because of the pandemic, applying for job after job and not hearing back, it’s easy to get disheartened and wonder if you can do it. But the volunteering and the support I received whilst volunteering gave me the belief that I could.
In the future I would definitely like to work in communications, maybe in science communications. The communications job I’m doing now is quite closely related to that, because it’s public health communications, so that’s really fortunate. I’ve also been working freelance whilst volunteering and now doing my new job, so the two compliment each other as well.
Before I started volunteering the impression I had was that it wasn’t something people my age did. I didn’t know you could help out with different organisations and try out a role to see if you’d like to do it as a job. You don’t need to be that dedicated or put that much time into it but you can get a lot out of it, so give it a go!