This weekend I’m off to Warwick University for the first Team v residential. Enthusiasm has been building since the warm-up day which gave us an opportunity to meet the 100-strong crew of Team v leaders, but I have particular reason to be excited about where it is being held. I graduated from Warwick Uni just over two years ago, having spent four years of my life as an undergraduate there. I loved my time there and haven’t been back to the university campus (or the ‘bubble’, as it is affectionately named due to the detachment from reality you feel when you’re there for more than a few days) since graduation so it will be brilliant – if a little surreal – to return as a... ahem, mature, non-student.
In my third year of uni I was lucky enough to be on the youth advisory board for vinspired, then called v20. Being on v20 undoubtedly changed my life. I met some incredible young people who were unbelievably inspiring and I came to realise that my passions lay in helping others. Having volunteered since the age of eleven on various projects both in and out of school, I suppose I always knew this, but suddenly it dawned on me that you can make a career out of it without being a teacher or a doctor. The voluntary sector doors had finally swung open and I could see the range of opportunities out there as an employee, not just a volunteer. Now I’ll admit I haven’t managed to get a foot on the ladder yet, but by throwing my efforts into volunteering for numerous different organisations and gaining experience in various areas, I’m acquiring the skills, experience and contacts to stand me in good stead (hopefully) for a brighter future.
I had to work hard for my degree. I’m not the type of person who can skip lectures, roll into an exam after a late night, leave the exam an hour early and go home with top marks (not that I’m bitter) but during my time as a student I managed to dedicate time I wasn’t in lectures/writing essays/stressing out to a few projects, inspired by my involvement with v20. This ranged from assisting the Volunteer Co-ordinator at a Community Venture on a weekly basis to teaching English and Maths for one month in Rajasthan, India. In 2009 I received a Warwick Advantage Award for my work with v20, recognition of the time I had committed to volunteering whilst at university. So for a little of my time I got a lot in return.
I hope my experience shows that whether you’re in college, uni, or a full-time job, if you spare a little time to help others, you’ll soon realise you’re also helping yourself. Volunteering with Team v is a fantastic opportunity to develop your skills, meet new people, and you might even discover a career path you had never considered before. Not bad for a few hours of your time, hey?
Email Lucy.Dean@vinspired.com if you’d like to find out more about Team v Derby City.