Advice on volunteering

Volunteering can help you make career choices. You can test out different jobs to find out what you prefer.

At 16 or 18 you may not have much work experience to make your CV or personal statement stand out. Volunteering gives you experience and a chance to develop the soft skills that are useful in all careers.

Through volunteering you can:

  • find out what's involved in a job to see if it's for you
  • try out different career ideas
  • learn new skills or build on ones you already have
  • meet new people and develop your network of contacts
  • boost your confidence
  • give back to your community

How to choose a volunteering position

You may have to take small steps to get to your perfect volunteering opportunity. It can be very competitive and for some opportunities, you might need to be over 18. Be creative about where you'll go and what you're willing to do. This approach can help you gain skills for the long-term.

For example, if you want to work with animals, getting into a charity like the RSPCA may be difficult without experience. You could show your commitment by doing something like dog walking or pet sitting for friends and relatives first.

Think broadly about how to get into volunteering, like:

  • sciences - you could volunteer to lead your school or college science club or be a science ambassador
  • teaching - help at an after school club or in out of school activities like Brownies and Scouts
  • media - try a communications role for a local charity or write a school or college blog
  • sports - help organise children’s sports teams
  • social care or mental health - be a befriender to lonely and isolated elderly members of your community

Remember, even if the role is not exactly what you want, it will still give you useful experience. It's about building skills for the future and being flexible in how you get them.

Research the sector you’re interested in and look for roles where you could develop your transferable skills, like:

  • communication
  • public speaking
  • organisation
  • teamwork
  • fundraising
  • campaigning
  • admin

How to apply for a volunteering position

To apply for most volunteering positions, you will need an up-to-date CV and a cover letter.

Whether you apply for an advertised role or just approach organisations direct, you should be sure to show you are:

  • eager to help and put your skills to good use
  • hardworking, trustworthy and reliable
  • able to commit to the time the organisation needs

How to prepare and make a good impression

Volunteering for the first time can be scary. It helps to make sure you're prepared. Some top tips are to:

  • double check when you're needed, the hours you'll need to commit and where you need to go
  • research the organisation so you'll know what to expect
  • do any paperwork in advance, like confirming your identity, getting a reference or a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) clearance
  • check if there are any special instructions like a dress code or rules to follow

Give back to your community

Volunteering can really help you to feel a part of your local community. It will give you experience that you can use to show employers and education providers the value you have added and the skills you've gained in return for your time and effort.

Get help and advice to find organisations to volunteer with from school or college staff or a careers adviser.

Find volunteering opportunities with Do It .

There are also opportunities to volunteer as support during COVID-19.

Visit the advice for volunteering opportunities near you.

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