Archive for the ‘Talking topics & opinion’ Category
TARGETjobs tell us how to show potential employees that you mean business.
You already know volunteering is a great way to give back to the community and to meet new like-minded people. As well as being extremely fulfilling, it is a great way to develop your employability.
By doing voluntary work you are sending out a signal that you are productive with your free time or your gap year. This gives employers an indication of the type of person you are: resourceful, full of initiative and self-motivated. But how do you sell your new skills in a job interview?
Volunteering is a great way to develop soft skills
Employers usually want evidence of your soft skills. These include effective communication, time management, negotiation, planning and organisation.
Many employers feel that graduates leave university without the soft skills needed in the workplace. Volunteering, as well as getting work experience is the perfect solution. Try looking at communication-based volunteer roles <link> to work on these.
Sell your soft skills
You need to understand the skills employers want so you can figure out which skills you are developing through your volunteering. If you keep notes on examples of your skills, it will be easy to use them as evidence of what you have to offer in your cover letters, or at interview stage.
You might use an example like this one:
‘Volunteering taught me how to deal with a crisis. On one occasion I was responsible for the printing of leaflets to hand out at a charity event. When I collected the material I saw that the printers had made a mistake and used the wrong logo. (The event was on the following day). As the printers were fully booked I had to find a new print shop that could print on the same day, and negotiate for the print shop that had made the mistake to pay for the extra cost and give a substantial discount for the initial job.’
Examples are key
If you give specific examples and state the skills you developed while volunteering, you will give employers a better understanding of your experience and the level of soft skills you possess. The example above, for instance, shows that you are a quick thinker, a good negotiator and did not panic under pressure.
It doesn’t have to be a big project. Even volunteering in a shop can develop great interpersonal skills, client-facing communication skills and, if you are dealing with cashing up at the end of the days, numeracy skills.
To get an idea of the range of skills you could be developing, check out the TARGETjobs skills and competencies page.
The vInspired bods behind Igniter know exactly how you can get the public to financially support your inspired ideas.
In January we launched Igniter, a brand new crowdfunding platform for young people to raise the funds they need from members of the public to run their own projects. It was a great success with all 8 projects fully funded within the first 3 weeks. We’re looking for more young people to share their creativity with us so we can help you to get the money you need to do something amazing.
After all, what good are great ideas without a way to tell everyone about them?
Whether you have the tiniest seed of an idea or have a project you’ve been running for a while, we want to hear from you. Projects that have been featured so far vary from promoting mental health to supporting young people into employment to starting a social enterprise to raise money for charity.
As today is World Creativity and Innovation Day, we’ve put together some top tips from our own creators and innovators.
Top tips for crowdfunding:
- Promote! Promote! Promote! Tweet everyone, email everyone, Facebook everyone, ask your friends, family, colleagues, boss etc. Don’t just do it once either, make sure you keep doing it throughout the time that your page is open.
- Have a realistic goal – don’t set your target too high. It may put people off donating and if you don’t reach it, you won’t get any money at all.
- Have a realistic time frame. Short time frames work better. With long time frames people think ‘I’ll do it later’ and never do.
- Make friends with others on Igniter (you can easily do this via Twitter) and help to promote each other’s projects – it really does work!
- Publicly say thank you to people who have donated via your social media accounts.
- Be clear about the aims of your project and be clear about what you want the money for. Create a video which explains all of this in a couple of minutes.
To find out more and apply visit: www.vinspired.com/igniter. Happy Creativity and Innovation Day!
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Can’t make it to the Roundhouse this Tuesday? Tune in to our live Google Hangout instead!
vInspired HQ has been crazy busy preparing for our legendary National Awards. We’ve been organising celebrity guests, booking our star studded line-up, sending invitations and – most importantly – making sure that YOU can all attend without even having to leave your couch.
What is a Google Hangout?
In case you’ve been living under a rock lately, Google Hangout is the awesome video call feature on Google’s very own social network, Google+.
Led by our hosts Marita and Luke, our specially selected volunteers from up and down the country will be logging on to support us with National Award gossip and getting involved with backstage shenanigans.
What will I see?
We’ll be bringing the spirit of the National Awards to you from our backstage Hangout Hub.
Our National Award winners and nominees will share the spotlight with celebrities including A*M*E, The Risk and The Saturdays. Our hosts will be putting YOUR questions to the stars, announcing the winners live and making sure all that backstage fun gets captured on the internet.
How do I get involved?
Want to tune in on the night? It’s easy – just head over to our YouTube channel at 7.30 pm to check out our live stream.
We’ll see you at the Awards!
Young people from 15 youth organisations, including vInspired, have joined forces to write to the Education Secretary expressing their concern about his comments that youth policy is not a priority for central government.
Together the organisations represent over eight million young people across the country.
In a survey conducted to support the letter 92 per cent of the young people polled feel that the government does not do enough to show they care about young people and their futures. 95 per cent believe that youth policy should be a key priority for national government.
Have something to say about it? Leave a comment on this post or tweet it using #youthpolicyismypriority.
A direction for my future
When I was at school, I never really figured out what I wanted to do with my life. I picked my GCSE’s on a whim, completely uninterested in thinking about how they’d help me in the future (They haven’t, I’ve not yet found a need to use clamps & PVA glue to shape hardboard).
When it came to my A-Levels, I just picked what I was good at but my history teacher astutely pointed out I’d somewhat outgrown formal education. My life outside school was often chaotic, I had no direction and nobody had ever really given me a reason to look for one.
Then, early in my first term as a Sixth Former, a Connexions worker came into our assembly and announced that he was looking for a group to train as Peer Supporters. This sounded far more interesting and useful than Glacier formation, so I signed up.
I got really into Peer Education, and before I knew it I was also volunteering as a Duke of Edinburgh Award leader and with the school’s Princes Trust projects. My passion for youth work was beginning to develop. For the first time in my life I had a career goal and youth workers made me believe I could do it.
The rest, as they say, is history.
Youth work shaped me as a person
Why am I telling you all this? Because youth work, without a doubt, completely turned my life around. It gave me confidence, skills, and leadership experience, not to mention a career to aspire to. It did so much more for my personal development than my formal education ever managed. I’m sure many other people can say the same.
What’s happening now?
Yet now, apparently, the part of Government responsible for youth policy doesn’t think it should be a priority for central government. Education Secretary Michael Gove has stated that, “We believe, in the Department, that youth policy is primarily a matter for local government and not for central government.” Now, on the one hand, this is quite understandable. There are plenty of other concerns for central government; the economy, crime, trade, poverty, employment… they are all Big, Important Issues. Why not hand youth policy over to local government so central government can focus on the Big Important Issues?
Well, because youth policy is a big deal. Sure, it’s not as urgent as our current economic issues, or the employment figures for the UK. But youth policy is important because it is linked to ALL of those Big Important Issues; young people struggle to find employment, many live in poverty, some fall into crime. There is probably no Big Important Issue that young people aren’t part of. So, when you think about it, youth policy not only links to everything else central government needs to think about and oversee, youth Policy is the foundation of all those Big Important Issues. Investment in young people is the most logical way to ensure the UK remains a strong international voice, and once again becomes prosperous and economically stable.
Who does this affect?
Youth policy isn’t just about youth work; it also has an impact on the families of young people, their communities, and often their schools too. Young people need something to do, but they also need someone to inspire them, somewhere they can explore the world around them through the informal education youth work provides. School provides academic abilities and, hopefully, the ability to think critically. Youth work allows exploration of issues and the world around young people. This is what will really give them confidence when they head off into the wider world.
Perhaps Mr Gove needs to meet the young people who have been transformed into confident young adults thanks to youth workers. As a group of young people from London Youth said last week, perhaps Mr Gove needs to find out why young people keep going to youth clubs voluntarily, before he starts to condemn youth policy to a life on the side-lines, with less funding and less support from government at all levels.
If youth policy is put to one side, or left to be managed by overstretched local government, development in this area will cease in some local areas, while in others, youth provision will become patchy in quantity and quality. And if the UK is ever to climb back up out of this recession, cut unemployment rates, and stimulate the economy with growth and innovation, youth policy should, in fact, be right up there at the top of the list of Big Important Issues.
vInspired brings you a new platform to discuss social issues that you care about.
Some of you might remember Big Society’s Big Mouth, our
platform for discussion around the ‘Big Society’ and how it played out in your communities. It was great to hear your views on the things that were affecting you, like the welfare system, the London riots and government cuts. Though BSBM was a great platform, we felt some changes needed to be made. We’ve been busy working away to update the site and turn it in to a place for you to talk all things volunteering and social action.
What is it for?
Big Mouth is now ready to launch as the new discussion platform for vInspired.com. We would like you to use this site to discuss the things that are important to you, particularly focusing on volunteering, social action and any social issues that you feel could benefit from this kind of attention. You can start discussions or contribute to them, and vote on our polls. Big Mouth is also a great way to find out more about what’s going on at vInspired and ways that you can get involved.
How do I use it?
We’d like you to visit the site, have a look around, and let us know what you think. There are some discussions up there already, which you can comment on, or if there’s something else you’re interested in talking about, why not start your own conversation?
Where do I start?
At the moment, one hot topic for young people is the difficult job market. How is it going for you? Are you on the right path or are you finding it difficult to get a job at all?
Check out this discussion and tell us whether you feel now is the perfect time to start your own business, rather than waiting around for the right job to come up. We’re really looking forward to hearing what you have to say!
I remember having that awkward “so-what-do-you-want-to-be-when-you-leave-school” conversation with pretty much everyone I knew during my last year at school.
Teachers, parents, mates, aunts, uncles, your next door neighbour, your cat… and usually a careers advisor too.
More and more young people are leaving school without plans for the future, and many turn to careers advisors for help.
The problem is that not all careers advisors give out all the info. Here at vInspired, we know that volunteering is an amazing thing to do. Great for you (it makes you feel good!) and, let’s face it, good for your CV too.
So we carried out some research that shows that many advisors aren’t promoting volunteering as a way to increase employability, which is a crying shame.
Volunteering — a route into employment
For most of you, the post-school dream is getting a job. Winning the Euro Millions jackpot would be top of the list maybe — but after that, a job. However, with the current economic climate, that may not always be possible.
Volunteering in a great route into employment. You gain skills and experience, can prove to future employers that you are reliable and dedicated, and can even get a reference. Plus you get the feeling of knowing that you are doing good in the world.
The government, businesses and careers advisors need to recognise that volunteering IS a legitimate route into employment. I wouldn’t have got any of the jobs I have had, from part-time work in a bar to my role at vInspired, without the skills and experience I gained from volunteering.
Getting the facts right
You develop hugely as a person when you volunteer: I learned to be more organised, to be on time, and how to manage other volunteers. I also learned the hard way that having a working CD player on a bus full of kids is an absolute life-saver… after ours packed up, they made me do karaoke renditions of Lady Gaga and Adele!
More importantly, our research discovered that careers advisors need to be giving you the right information. Anyone out there on Job Seeker’s Allowance or other benefits? Ever wondered if you can still volunteer when claiming benefits? Absolutely.
Anyone that tells you otherwise is wrong, simple as that. In order to claim Jobseeker’s, you need to be actively looking for work, be available for interview within 48 hours and be able to start a job within a week.
Does volunteering prevent this? Hell no. Let’s debunk myth like this once and for all!
So here’s some careers advice, from me to you: volunteer. You have nothing to lose, and quite literally everything to gain.
Hannah Brearley is Youth Involvement and Policy Intern at vInspired.
Do you agree? What’s the best piece of careers advice you’ve ever received? Leave your comments below.
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When I arrived at Sainsbury’s at 9am on a Saturday morning to be told I was the only volunteer that day, I knew it was totally down to me how good or bad this day was about to go – but as I’ve preached before, volunteering is about getting out of your comfort zone, so I grabbed some flyers and got going.
Here are 5 things I took away from the day…
A smile goes a long way
Too many people under-estimate the power of a good smile, as soon as someone walked through those electric doors I was throwing my cheesiest grin their way – not only did this force them to smile back but it also opened them up for a conversation.
Haters gonna’ hate
About half an hour into my shift an old guy popped the ‘C’ at me, (no not that ‘C’ word) – he called me a “chugger”. At first I felt offended, then I started laughing to myself. I had got out of bed to help collect food for those in need, that was my priority. So I brushed my feelings to one side and reminded myself that ‘haters gonna’ hate!’
It’s a numbers game
Like many things in life it can all be reduced to simple mathematics. Of the 100s of people that walked through those doors, 90% of the ones I made the effort to speak to donated, whereas only around 5% who instead picked up a basket that I had sneakily placed a leaflet in did. Going the extra mile puts the odds in your favour.
Always see the good in people
It’s easy to get bogged down with the negatively the media likes to throw at us. But by doing things like volunteering you get to experience what the actual reality is. The weekend reminded me that there are a whole lot of good people out there and it’s those people who give me motivation.
You’re never too small to make a difference
I’m a huge believer in collaboration but my shift for Fare Share UK also showed me that if the situations calls it’s ok to be the one man band.. For my four hours of volunteering I was making noise alone, raising awareness of food poverty in our own back yard. I didn’t fill my allocated crate, I did maybe a quarter. But that was 250 meals that someone who I’ll never meet, who is worse off than me will appreciate.
And isn’t that the beauty of volunteering?
Two years ago, Fran Edwards embarked upon a life-changing journey with the Young Leaders Programme, culminating in being part of the world’s greatest sporting spectacle.
Here, she explains why volunteering has become an important part of her past, present and future…
This summer was one never to be forgotten or equalled. As a member of the Surrey hub of the Young Leaders Programme, I worked alongside an incredible bunch of people to make a positive difference.
Over the past two years, we planned and delivered a number of community team projects and individual challenges that were inspired by the Olympic and Paralympic Values.
These projects ranged from bringing together different generations via board games and computer games, to creating an Olympic-themed mural on our local high street, with us being lucky enough to have athletes from the Dame Kelly Holmes Legacy Trusthelp us run these events to promote awareness of the London 2012 games.
And the project culminated in a once in a lifetime opportunity of being a Games Maker at London 2012.
A place where magic happens
Walking onto the park on my first morning and seeing the main stadium in all its glory with thousands of people flocking in really brought everything home. I’ve never been emotionally moved by a location like it and probably never will again.
It became so much more than just a location, it became a place where magic happens – and I was lucky enough to be part of it. During the games, I welcomed the public to the park, gave out information & directions, scanned tickets, enthused visitors and generally did everything I could to make sure people had the best day possible.
We met, worked and had fun with an incredible number of hugely talented people including athletes, fellow Games Makers, employees and military who all went out of their way to make a difference. I loved every minute of the games, and it has without a doubt changed my life forever.
My highlights were holding the Gold medal of a French athlete, seeing Tom Daley perform, watching the opening ceremony of the Paralympics as a VIP guest of BP and seeing Usain Bolt and Yohan Blake in the 200m semi-final!
Being part of the greatest sporting event in the world
We all had different expectations and ambitions, but shared one aim; to be part of the biggest and greatest sporting event in the world. Collectively, we made it work better than anyone could have dreamt of. I have never been thanked so much in my entire life.
People were genuinely grateful and appreciative of the work that we were doing on their behalf. During the 2-year programme I have gained confidence and learnt and developed so much including networking, budgeting, event organisation and communication skills.
I am looking forward to my future armed with new confidence, knowledge and skills gained during this extraordinary experience, knowing what can be achieved if you work hard, aim high and grasp every opportunity with enthusiasm and determination.
There is no doubt that volunteering has helped me to achieve my goal of going to university and gain a job as a chalet host for this year’s ski season.
I am going to continue volunteering during my sports degree working with schools and sports clubs in the community and would encourage anyone, of any age to get involved and gain the rewards that volunteering can provide.
Today marks the 143rd Birthday of Mahatma Gandi, one of the world’s greatest leaders.
In celebration, here are his top 10 fundamentals for changing the world to help inspire those who volunteer and believe they can change things for the better:
1) Change yourself
2) You are in control
3) Forgive & let it go
4) Without action you aren’t going anywhere
5) Take care of this moment
6) Everyone is human
8) See the good in people and help them
9) Be congruent, be authentic, be your true self
10) Continue to grow and evolve
Find volunteering opportunities at vinspired.com
Finding your life passion and having a career you truly love – it’s not as easy as you think. That said, we think that volunteering is a great way of getting there.
Whether you received your GCSE or A-Level results recently, or recently graduated from University, this time of year can present you with some exciting new paths and choices for the future.
Choice. A world of possibility. Almost endless paths lay before you – but which one to take?
When it comes to careers, being presented with the facts – the industry options available to you – is one thing (see this post on career skills for more on that), but if you want to do something you really love, there’s one ingredient with which an informed choice needs to combine with and feed off – passion.
Take a look at any number of successful and inspiring people – from world-famous entrepreneurs, to that inspiring former school teacher. Often the reason for their success is that they opted to do with their life something that allowed them to express a passion.
Here are three steps to using volunteering to help you find out your passion and do what you love…
1. Give: find something bigger than yourself
“Find something more important than what you are and dedicate your life to it” Dan Dennett
Dedicating your time to others without expecting anything in return, helps you to get perspective on the really important things in life.
Take a moment to think about the things that are most important to you – things that have made you “you”…
There are volunteering opportunities out there covering a huge range of interests and causes that allow you to contribute to things that you feel are most important in life.
Getting fresh perspectives and being exposed to diverse cultures and backgrounds is a humbling experience; and a great way of finding and appreciating your place in the world. That, in a nutshell, is why volunteering is so awesome.
2. Explore: step outside of your comfort zone
Although we prefer the safety and comfort of knowing exactly where we’re going to and when we’re getting there, life is often not that simple. Thankfully, it’s not that boring either.
The not knowing what lies around the corner and the fear of stepping into the unknown from time to time is often what makes life so brilliant and interesting – and the great thing about volunteering is that it allows you to do just that, with minimal risk.
So try something totally new, something adventurous, something daring. Push yourself. Get lost. And in doing so, you might just discover something about yourself and others that you didn’t realise existed…
3. Discover what you love – and have courage to do it
By focussing on the things that are more important than what you are and stepping outside of your comfort zone, you’re far more likely to come across that one thing, that one area of work that you’d be happy to spend your life doing.
It sounds like a scary prospect. But guess what? Volunteering has the power to achieve exactly that.
So begin your journey right now.
Focus on something more important than what you are.
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The National Young Volunteers Service
Welcome to the vInspired blog! Keep updated with the latest news, volunteering tips and advice and hear about great opportunities on vinspired.com. This is also a space for young volunteers to share their experiences and express views on the things that matter to them. Want to write here? Email your ideas to email@example.com.
Record your volunteering and get a vInspired award
Improve your CV and get recognition for your volunteering. Sign up today, choose the award that's right for you and start recording your volunteering.