GUEST BLOG: Getting into the voluntary sector

UoY Careers Balloon illy Former York student and passionate campaigner Kate Evans shares her experience of finding work in the charity sector and her top tips for students looking to get a foot in the door.

Whilst studying history at York, I was keen to also get involved in other activities; I was Environment and Ethics Officer at Halifax College and was part of the People and Planets society. I loved campaigning and could usually be found somewhere on campus encouraging students to sign petitions!” – Kate succeeded on campus, with one of her campaigns leading to the ethical sourcing of merchandise in the students’ union.

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Once Kate left York, she used her degree and the skills she’d developed to pursue various opportunities, including volunteering in India for Development in Action (www.developmentinaction.org/). Kate stresses though that it isn’t only volunteer work that will get you in to the charity sector: “Going to India was as much about the life experience of travelling for me as it was about the benefits of volunteering. For students who would like to work in the charity sector, but can’t volunteer full-time, I would reassure you that Charities really appreciate the skills you can bring to a job, not just the sector-experience.” Organisations like Oxfam also have opportunities for you to get involved less frequently, for example at events or for a few hours a week at a local shop. “Experience like that can help show that you’re passionate about giving back”. 

Kate’s top tips:

  • Do as much as you can whilst at university. Join societies, start a petition, contribute to the student media.
  • Draw on your experiences of study, extra-curricular activities and work experience when you have your first post-university interviews.
  • Remember that your degree subject doesn’t define your next steps, it’s the skills that you’ve gained and can transfer that do.
  • Speak to the University of York Careers team – “they helped me to explore my options and to think about the types of roles I could explore at organisations such as Oxfam.”

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“I loved history and have used knowledge I’ve gained through the course whilst at Oxfam, what’s been really interesting though is realising that some skills I’ve gained are really complementary even when you don’t know they are. Campaigning for example is like Sales; you’re not selling a product, you’re selling an idea.”

At Oxfam, Kate is now a Marketing Manager in our Education Team. She provides materials and support to teachers nationwide, and through doing so is engaging with the UK’s children who are hopefully our next generation of active global citizens: “It’s great to engage with young people about issues that affect us all globally. It’s something I’m really passionate about and is the reason I’m in this role now. I love that Oxfam empower young people, encouraging them to make a positive contribution and to drive change through their skills”.

If you’d like to find out more about the work that Kate and her team do, visit: www.oxfam.org.uk/education

If you’d like to get involved with Oxfam, there’s so many ways to do so; you don’t need to have lots of time to spare or have lots of experience, just buckets of enthusiasm and a passion for fighting poverty with us. To find out more about paid opportunities, volunteering and internships see www.oxfam.org.uk/get-involved.

See the job sector web pages or further information about the charity and voluntary sector, see the Job sector pages.

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