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“Definitely volunteer! It will provide you with a great way to support your studies and explore things that you are interested in but can’t cover in class”

Nick graduated from UCL’s Human Rights MA in 2013. Here he shares some of his reflections on his time as a volunteer.

Where are you currently working and/or volunteering?
I currently work in the Faculty of Public Health and where I am responsible for managing the network of 3,300 professional members of the Faculty of Public Health and who represent the most senior public health specialists throughout the UK.

I still do lots of volunteering at the moment. Including:

  • Working as a mentor for refugee teens in secondary school with Salusbury World
  • Acting as a trustee for a new charity focusing on the rights of people in detention in Cameroon and Burundi, Contra Nocendi
  • Working as a School Ambassador and workshop facilitator for the GREAT Men Project

What volunteering were you involved with whilst you were at UCL?
I studied part time for my masters and volunteered with the Nominal Commitments for Human Rights project for both years, joining in as a participant in my first year and leading it in my second year. We looked at how states are committed to human rights through international law and updated the project from its initial findings in 2009.

What useful skills and experiences did you gain as a volunteer when you were at UCL?
The most useful experience I gained was the ability to explore areas from my course which could not be covered in depth by the syllabus. We studied international law and how legally committed countries were to human rights in some detail during classes but this project allowed my to take my interest in this issue further.

Leading the team in my second year was also a great experience in terms of learning the skills necessary to recruit people, encourage them to take ownership their areas of the project and helping them to develop their own project management skills. This was really useful for getting leadership experience which I have transferred now into my career as well as my voluntary roles as a mentor.

How has volunteering helped you in your career so far?
I work in the charity, or third, sector and volunteering experience is essential to getting ahead as well as being a great way to work out what kind of organisation I wanted to work with.

Volunteering has also allowed me to build a network of like-minded and skilled individuals who I can draw on throughout my day to day work. Whether it’s other volunteers, the staff leading  projects or the trustees of the organisations I’ve worked with, they all provide great support which they are more than happy to share because of the time I spent working with them as a volunteer.

What would you say to UCL students considering whether or not to volunteer?
Definitely volunteer! It will provide you with a great way to support your studies and explore things that you are interested in but can’t cover in class and provide great experience to boost your CV. It will also give you a new perspective from which to think about what kind of career you want and what kind of organisation you want to work in once you graduate.

Interested in volunteering? Here’s how you can get started.

Read more stories from our alumni