Volunteering helped me get a taste for work



I went to university as I believed it was the natural thing to do after finishing Sixth Form College and thought it would allow me to make more money in the future. I regularly talked to older friends, who were already at university, to gain advice about applying. When deciding which university to go to, I thought carefully and considered which one would have a positive impact on my career. I chose my university as it was rated highly overall even though it wasn’t rated highly for the subject I chose to study. My decision to study Psychology was not initially based on career prospects but more out of interest in the subject.

In my second year at university, I began taking action to enhance my career prospects by volunteering and attending career talks. I volunteered at the charity ‘Samaritans’ and also attended a few career talks at my department which helped me decide that I wanted to get into Clinical Psychology. While volunteering at Samaritans, I got my first taste of working in this area and dealing with elderly people. As I only volunteered once a week, I could comfortably balance this with my academic work which I did not want to suffer as this was my priority.

Whilst at university I regularly discussed career ideas and opportunities with course mates. This was because most people on my course wanted to be a Clinical Psychologist and, with this similar career path in mind, we could share our knowledge and experiences. I found talking to her course mates very beneficial and still talk to them now for career advice.

I began to look for graduate jobs in my final year at university after discussing the graduate job market with the careers service and attending careers events and activities, although I felt that they were often more tailored towards becoming a lawyer. Despite this, I did not apply for any graduate positions in my final year and instead chose to wait until I had finished university.

After graduating, I immediately got a job as a support worker with the hope it would help me achieve my goal of becoming a Clinical Psychologist, whilst still applying for graduate positions. After six months of working in this position I successfully attained a graduate job as a Project Coordinator and Communications Manager in social care. I believe that I definitely wouldn’t have got the job without my volunteer experience at Samaritans. Despite this not being the type of job I expected to be in when starting university I am currently very happy in this role and I am considering taking a Masters to further my learning.

Looking back on my experience, I think it would have been beneficial to have started to get relevant work experience in sixth form and I would have tried to get more job applications in before I left university. I would advise current students who are thinking about their careers to try and pick elective modules that are relevant to their career aspirations.