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volunteering in and out of college

on Thu, 10/27/2016 - 11:56
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Volunteering can be a very mysterious area for first years. It has neither the leisure and social allure possessed by the societies which naturally draw curiosity and interest or the more recreational aspects of the clubs sector. Volunteering can be difficult to approach due to what it simply boils down to, which is simply put “helping out” within a wide variety of different areas. Whether it be the desire to help in an area or achieve or experience a sense of fulfilment, those who partake in volunteering rarely regard it as anything less than a valuable experience, but putting time aside to partake in it and/or approaching it can be difficult. The definition of volunteering is ' the commitment of time and energy for the benefit of society and the community, the environment or individuals outside one's immediate family. It is undertaken freely and by choice, without concern for financial gain'. Which is all well and good but raises the question, why should you bother volunteering as you gain nothing from it? However this is far from the truth as a lot can be gained from the act of volunteer work. First and foremost and the point made most often is that volunteer work looks great on your Curriculum Vitae(CV). Prospective employers love seeing volunteer work on a C.V. as it shows engagement, drive and that more than money motivates you. It can show a future potential employer that you are someone who has more skills and experiences that the next potential employee with a degree, those skill can include communication, leadership and time management.  

With so many volunteer opportunities in and outside the university it would be hard not to find something that interests you. This can also be a benefit as you could gain experiences through volunteer work of your potential future career and/or help you gain valuable insight into what you do and don't like. The reality of certain areas of work e.g. healthcare can exceed your expectations or perhaps you'll find that it is not for you. A major benefit of doing this in first year is that if you find you don't like what is involved there is still an opportunity to change your mind without having wasted your time on something you don't enjoy. 

It is a way to make friends through mutual interests, whether that be your love of sport and running free coaching sessions, or a desire to help the homeless because you're passionate about helping the less fortunate. Whatever you're into, you’ll meet like-minded people who could turn out to be some of your lifelong friends. It also gives you the possibility to see new places and to have your mind and view of the world expanded upon in exciting and fun ways. One such volunteer program is Cell EXPLORERS a fantastic science outreach program which allows volunteers to share their love of science by demonstrating at open days, school visits and festival workshops. This program helps to get children excited about science and open to the possibility of a broad range of careers within this field in the future.  

The University also acknowledges the volunteering you do with the ALIVE Certificate. This prestigious award separates you from the rest of the crowd. The NUI Galway ALIVE Certificate for Volunteering is a Presidential Award recognizing all extra-curricular activities of all NUIG students. To congratulate and recognize students that volunteer, the President of NUIG, James Brown awards the ALIVE Cert to students that give their time to communities, whether that be the NUIG community, the Galway city community, your hometown or indeed international communities. The ALIVE Cert has 3 main aims;  

First and foremost, the university wants to reward the effort that students put into societies, sports clubs, campaigns, committees, community volunteering, mentoring, being a class rep, the student radio and newspaper, and everything else that isn't degree related!  

Secondly, employers note that students have a lot of great experience but don't know how to talk about it in interviews and application forms, so the ALIVE Cert acts as a great platform in which students can showcase their achievements through volunteering.  

Finally, the cert is an opportunity for you to reflect on your volunteering, academic degree, and individual role and contribution to society. NUIG has developed the ALIVE cert for volunteering, which gives the University a chance to tell them what you have been doing and get the recognition you deserve! The ALIVE Cert for Volunteering represents the volunteering, training, and reflection you have undertaken. The certificate is awarded annually in March at the ALIVE Certificate Ceremony by our Universities' President. Everyone is welcome to the annual event, students, staff, and community organizations, all to celebrate volunteering! Each student is presented with their certificate at the ceremony. There is an Alive volunteering fair on the 2nd week of every semester. You can also apply online for the ALIVE Cert at All you need to do is answer a few questions about your volunteering. To qualify, you need to be an active volunteer for at least one semester. You can volunteer in Galway, in your hometown, or internationally during the summer months. ALL volunteering is recognized! 

There are a lot of different ways for students to volunteer. On campus one great way is through the Student Connect Mentoring programme. At the end of this year you can apply to be a mentor to incoming first years in 2017/18. The programme allows you to give back to the college community by helping new students to get their bearings and get the most they can out of NUIG campus life. It is also an opportunity to make new friends and get to know your college better. If you would like to know more about the programme you can ask your mentor or have a look under the Contact heading on this site.  

There are also opportunities through societies and clubs such as (vsa soc, cancer soc, friends of msf soc andf draiocht soc.) or even the student union through the welfare crew. The volunteer group in the SU help with anything from handing out condoms to spreading the word about different campaigns. The crew it's self meets every Tuesday but don't worry if you'd like to get involved but can't make it. 

For charities outside of campus you can also work with organizations such as cope and the Galway Simon community. 

If you do decide to dedicate some or your free time to volunteering then be sure to not give more time than your realistically can and don't be afraid to ask for further information before signing up as a volunteer for an organisation or charity. It is important to make an informed decision before hand about your specific roles, working hours etc. It is always better to know what is expected of you before agreeing to an opportunity than cancelling closer to the date as this can make things tricky for both parties. Be interested in the volunteer work your going to take part in there is nothing more boring and mind numbing than doing something you don’t like or enjoy. So find something that suits you and take the initiative and just do it whether it be with a friend or alone take that step out of your comfort zone Don’t look back or even consider “what ifs” Being wary and nervous before stepping in is perfectly fine, but don’t let that stop you from missing out on something you may potentially get a lot out from. 


And to finish this tirade off with a quote Wilston S. Churchill put it well when he said, ‘We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give’ So don't just live or exist. Do something good, give back to your community, and create a life out of what you can offer to others. Leave your mark. Make a difference.