When you are an arts or humanities student, it can be very hard to find a part-time job relevant to your studies and interests. Think about it – who would employ an 18-year old photographer? Or how likely is a theatre to employ a fresher of the Drama course? What about a teenage proofreader in a publishing house? Opportunities can be hard to find. But there is a way – and it’s called volunteering.
Volunteering has a double benefit. First of all, you can get a job that you normally wouldn’t at this stage – and that’s why it’s so important for us, humanities students. You can work as a PR officer, as an editor, as an actress, as a photographer, as a social worker, as a journalist for a serious website… You can also work in art and design related fields. The opportunities are endless. Secondly, your future employer will be only glad to see that you’ve invested your time and effort, learnt new skills and contributed to a greater cause. It looks great on your CV. There is a lot to be gained from volunteering – skills, contacts and personal satisfaction being at the top of the list. Check out volunteering opportunities online.
For the United Kingdom:
There are two types of volunteering: in the university and outside it. The number of opportunities depends on the size of the town you are living in, but in this blog post I will try to list all the possible options.
Volunteering in your own university.
- Join a society or a club. Ideally, more than one.No matter what your degree programme is, there must be a related club or society on campus. Moreover, do not just join a society – do something for it. Ask the committee how you can help out – they will be only happy to hear that someone else is out there to make their job easier. Organising events, communicating with the rest of the society, representing you club everywhere you can… everything you do is another point to add to your CV and another invaluable skill to gain and develop.
- If the society of your choice does not exist, set one up. It can be anything, from Public Speaking to Pottery. Find people who are interested, create a Facebook group, be active, be seen. Many people TALK about organising a club. I want you to be the one who DOES it!
- If you have a talent for writing or are good with grammar, then join the Campus newspaper team. They need writers and editors and they need them badly.
- If you are studying music or stage production, find the university stage crew and ask them if they need any help. Give them your phone number and start volunteering at the sound operator’s desk or with the crew assembling equipment on the stage.
- Be bold, be brave! If there is a department in your university which does something you like, go there and knock on their doors. For example, if you are a journalism student and want to collaborate with the PR department, then ask them if you can help out. Just have the guts to ask – they won’t bite. The worst they can do is say ‘no, thanks’.
- Politics students – volunteer for the Student Union. It is a huge governing body and if you have interesting ideas how to run the university better, then go there and make sure they are heard. Sociology students, you can help out by conducting a survey among your fellow students and asking them what they would like to see improved. Those things work, you just need to apply yourself to it!
- English and creative writing students – please keep writing and organise a writing group. Establish a collective blog with regular contributions. Collaborate with your lecturers and publish an almanac of student writing. Collaborate with drama students or a local theatre group. Offer them to stage your play or make your story into a play.
- Writers and research geeks – if your university is large enough, found an undergraduate research journal. Talk to your management and try to persuade them that it is possible to do it on a budget (because it is). You can even do it online – it will be much cheaper. Let the journal showcase your university’s best research.Click this link for inspiration. It leads to a website of an undergraduate research conference BCUR that will take place in March 2012 in Warwick University.
- Drama students – find or establish a theatre group. If there isn’t one in your university, then join one outside. There are many great theatre groups around.
Volunteering Outside the University.
- Painters and Photographers – keep working hard and create a website to show your best works. Organise a small exhibition in a local library or even your own university. Create buzz around your work – e.g. choose your best photo or painting and organise a writing competition; people must write a story or an essay based on your work. Collaborate with English lecturers and publish a collection of best ones through the university.
- Everyone – please make yourself heard. If you have recently done something unusual, then tell the university’s PR department about it. Even a small article about YOU is a great achievement while you are so young. Be seen. Develop as a professional from an early start.
- Check out the largest volunteering websites online for volunteering opportunities across your country (see above). There is almost everything: volunteering with NGOs and local political groups (especially good for politics students), social care, theatre, writing, editing, marketing, teaching… the list goes on and on.
- Musicians and music production students – you can have your own band in university but you can also play in a band or ‘twist the handles’ in a local church. Church bands are made of good musicians and you can definitely find a niche for your instrument there. If you don’t feel like playing in a church, then try a theatre group. They always need live music.
- Drama students – find a local theatre group. It is worth searching them up. If you consider acting as your future career, then please find a place to practice outside the classroom. Put on a short play and act it out in a pub or another unusual location.
- Historians and archaeologists – volunteer with your local museums and conservation projects. Contact heritage sites. Offer yourself as tour guides.
In short, develop you skills while you are young and gain experience. Volunteer and make your name heard. If you are good, money will come. What you need now is to do as much as possible and be seen everywhere. Get active. Volunteer. It pays off.