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Ameerah Patel is a third-year Psychology student. She spoke to us about her experience of volunteering with IntoUniversity as a mentor and how the role has honed her leadership and communication skills.

Tell us a little about your volunteering. 

I volunteer as a mentor for an organisation called IntoUniversity that provides support to students through one-to-one sessions. Once a week I mentor a student in year 7, providing support and guidance in various aspects, ranging from academia, developing social skills and future planning.

How did you find out about the role?

Whilst at sixth form, I used IntoUniversity’s services to help me improve my personal statement for my university application. Once I got into UCL and signed up to the Volunteering Service, I recognised the IntoUniveristy mentoring scheme in their newsletter and decided to sign-up.

Why did you want to become a volunteer?

I wanted to volunteer because I have an interest in helping others and making a difference. Undertaking a psychology degree, I hope to work within the psychological field and wanted to gain experience working with others and improving my personal skills through a positive and rewarding experience.

What difference do you feel you’ve made by volunteering?

Through our mentoring sessions and social skills building activities, my mentee has developed her confidence by engaging in public speaking tasks, taking the lead within discussions and has ultimately developed a stronger sense of self-belief.

Observing the progression of my mentee’s social skills has been a difference that I am particularly proud of. 

What impact has volunteering had on you?

Volunteering has had a huge positive impact on my social skills and mental wellbeing. It has helped me develop my communication skills and overall confidence as I often introduce or lead the sessions which require a level of leadership. Ultimately, mentoring is a very rewarding experience and has had an overall positive effect on my wellbeing and development.

What’s the best thing about volunteering?

The best thing about volunteering is seeing the progress of your mentee first hand. Knowing that you are helping someone else with their struggles be it academic or social and that you are having a positive impact in their life is a rewarding feeling that makes volunteering a worthwhile experience.

And the most challenging? How did you overcome the challenges?

The most challenging thing about volunteering is being consistent with the mentoring sessions weekly during the exam period. Finding a balance between managing your studies and volunteering commitments can be tough. However, I am very grateful as IntoUniversity allows a very flexible schedule and takes into consideration, the demands of a university student and so were very understanding in providing temporary breaks between the weekly meetings to allow space for other commitments to be met.

Tell us about something memorable that’s happened to you whilst volunteering

A memorable experience whilst volunteering was having a parent thank me for her daughter’s progression in school and improvement in her social skills. Having a parent tell me their child enjoys our mentoring sessions and has been a positive inspiration for future plans was a very memorable experience I am grateful for.

Would you recommend volunteering? If so, why?

I would definitely recommend volunteering as it is a way to give back to a community, help other individuals in various forms that you are most comfortable with and also a boosting mechanism for one’s own wellbeing. Knowing that you are having a positive impact on someone else’s life even it is by having a simple conversation, is a very rewarding experience.

How has COVID-19 impacted your volunteering and how has it changed what you do?

Despite the pandemic, I have still been able to have my mentoring sessions online. Besides the occasional network issues, mentoring online has in some ways opened up other avenues for us to explore and come up with ideas that are both entertaining yet beneficial. I have been able to focus in tailoring sessions towards current affairs and initiate interesting and insightful conversations whilst being in the comfort of our own homes.

If you want to find an opportunity that relates to your academic interests or your passions like Ameerah, check out all the available volunteering roles on our directory!