It’s that time of year again- the Volunteering Fair, where all the many different volunteering opportunities that exist for students gather in the Panorama Room so that people can find out more about what’s on offer, and sign up for different projects. But with so many different projects to choose from, it can seem overwhelming, which is why we hope this blog post will help you get the most out of the fair, and even help you to have fun!
Before arriving at the fair
Before you even get to the fair, you might want to check out the Warwick Volunteers’ website, http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/about/community/volunteers, and find out a bit more about the different projects that are available, and different options that may interest you- for example can you commit to a whole year, or would you prefer one-off volunteering projects? Are you particularly interested in a volunteering with children, or do you prefer more outdoors, hands on work?
With so many different amazing projects available, there’s bound to be something for everyone, no prior experience required! For a better idea of what it’s actually like to take part in certain volunteering projects, you may also want to look at Project Spotlight, which focuses on a different project every week, as well as heading to past posts on this blog!
Once you have an idea of what you’re interested in, and even if you don’t, it’s time to head to the fair! Everyone there is very friendly and helpful, so don’t worry about coming on your own, but if you are, encourage a friend or two to come with you- the more the merrier!
At the fair
Once you get to the fair, you will be given a My Volunteering Interests card that will allow you to put the stickers with the names of the different projects on it. Don’t lose this card, as it’s helpful for keeping track of which projects interested you the most, and you will need it as you leave the fair, where it will be scanned by one of our helpers. However, be careful not to go crazy with the stickers- only put the ones you’re really interested in on there, as realistically you can only commit to one, maybe two, year long projects, so you will need to cut down from the projects you’ve indicated that you are interested in anyways.
Even if you know what projects you’re interested in, it’s good to walk around the fair and see everything that is on offer- something that you never expected might appeal to you! If a project catches your interest, talk to the people at the stall- good questions to ask include asking them to tell you a bit more about the project, the time commitment involved, whether a DBS check is required, and the location of the project. These are all important factors that you will need to keep in mind for later on!
However, don’t stress yourself out trying to visit all the stalls, and ask all of them all of these questions, as if you forget, all the information can be found online, or by email, so relax and enjoy the fair. It’s also a great opportunity to meet new people, and get talking to people who you might never have started a conversation with, but who you now know shares an interest in volunteering!
Once you’ve found a few projects that you are really interested in, make sure to grab a sticker for your My Volunteering Interests card! If you’re undecided about a project, ask the Project Leader if they have any information you can take away, or else make a note of the project and find out more about it on our website- there’s no rush to commit to a project straight away as you leave the fair!
Before you leave, you might also be interested in heading over to talk to Student Careers and Skills, a member of the Volunteers Staff or to Student Support, who can answer any further questions you might have. Or come and find one of the members of the Volunteers Student Exec- we’ll be more than happy to talk to you!
On a more fun note, look out for our frame which you can take pictures with! It’s a great way to show your support for Warwick Volunteers, and who can resist an Instagram opportunity?
After the fair
Now that you’ve been to the fair, it’s time put everything you gained from into action, and decide on whether or not you want to join a volunteering project. Although we hope as many people as possible get involved, it’s definitely wise to be realistic with yourself, because once you have joined a project, you will be expected to commit a certain amount to it, as others are counting on you, so don’t join a project knowing you wont go to it.
Most of the projects will have introductory meetings, which the Project Leaders will tell you about at the fair, so don’t be afraid to attend a few! It’s a great opportunity to hear more about the project, receive information about what’s happening (such as start dates, how to sign up), and ask questions, as well as meet some other people who might join. If you are unsure about a project then consider going to this meeting, as it can help you make your decision, and attending it is not an obligation to the project. Get in contact with the Project Leaders as well if you have further questions.
Before you make your final decision, carefully consider all the factors one last time- something we keep repeating because it is so important! To recap, consider: where is it located; what is the time commitment; are expenses paid for; does it require a DBS check? Warwick Volunteers does help our volunteers through the DBS process, including with the expenses, but it’s still important to consider because it does take some extra time and effort.
And there you have it! Hopefully you have a clearer idea now of what to expect, and can use this to get the most out of the fair. No matter what you’re looking for- one-off events, volunteering in schools, getting involved in the local community or spending time with older people, amongst many other things, there is bound to be something for everyone! Not only is volunteering an incredibly rewarding and fun experience, but it is also something that will help you in years to come, as it gives you many transferable skills, and provides great examples for interviews (in case you needed further motivation).
We hope to see you at the fair on the 7th October, and at events and projects beyond that, and don’t hesitate to come to us with any questions you may have!
Claire, Project Leader Support Officer