by Michael Tran, YEUK Youth Ambassador
The last of our articles celebrating #volunteersweek, where Michael shares his experience of volunteering and how he has been able to gain and continue to use transferable skills through volunteering.
Long periods of boredom can sometimes result in one of the biggest achievements in life. It sounds silly, but when I exhausted most of the activities keeping me entertained during my first study leave, I began to explore volunteering as a temporary pastime.
Just over six years ago, my local paper advertised about a conservation charity looking for people to “help out” and “learn new skills”. I contacted them via email and eventually got involved in gardening projects such as coppicing and controlling vegetation growth. Some discouraged me by saying it was like having a job without an income, but I found the concept of giving back to your local community incredibly rewarding, and so my commitment to volunteering was here to stay.
The following year I signed up to volunteer at the Comic-Con Expo event in London, and the year after attended an interview to volunteer at London 2012. I secured a role as a Games Maker team leader, and strongly felt that my involvement in voluntary activities both inside and outside sixth form were my most powerful contributions to the interview.
The London Olympics created an impressive boost in Britain’s volunteering society, and encouraged my venture into the hastily-growing third sector. I began to use my voluntary experience to gain experience in volunteering for my local police force, and used that additional experience to move jobs, and eventually came across YEUK in early 2013.
Since 2014 I’ve been involved with the Richmond Running Festival, Cancer Research, London 10k run, London Marathon, the Sainsbury’s Anniversary Games, European Hockey Championships, and Prudential Ride London. I also had the privilege to work with professional athletes, their personal coaches, and hospitality staff at hotels.
I joined YEUK because I wanted to share my experience of vocational and alternative qualifications, and help other young people to achieve their ambitions by exposing them to the hidden wealth of opportunities that schools may not be aware of. Volunteering is definitely not the sole solution to youth unemployment, but YEUK supports its volunteers by letting them take centre stage in its campaigns to tackle regional and local barriers in employment.
This unique approach means volunteers could be:
- designing a new logo or website template (digital and IT skills),
- writing a short film or interview (media skills),
- managing a campaign (project management),
- drafting articles (research and literature techniques),
- taking part in events and stalls (people skills and stakeholders),
all of which can plug or develop skills that are generally in-demand across the job market.
The benefits of volunteering are clear. You can learn industry-specific skills, demonstrate evidence in communication skills, and develop teamwork attributes through sharing best practice and coordination. Fortunately, most of those I have volunteered with were willing to share their employment and education experience. For me, I have picked up managerial experience, been given an insight into other careers such as hospitality and events, and created a network of people who can give me a detailed insight into different professions.
Whether or not volunteering gives you the opportunity to become part of a successful sporting event, all of the knowledge gained in volunteering will support you in your future job applications. Your skills are transferrable and so the experience can be integral to any career path you choose. There is always something in it for everyone, so keep your options open and do not be afraid to learn from your mistakes when something does not work out.
Aged 16-24? If you would like to #volunteer with us as a Youth Ambassador, check out our Ambassador pages and send us an application.