Our wonderful Head of PR, Ellen, caught up with Projects Assistant Iyanu Joseph, to discuss how Iyanu’s time volunteering with Studenteer has helped her to get a placement during a pandemic!

Please can you Introduce yourself?

My name is Iyanu, I am a 2nd year studying international Development with Economics. I am currently on the projects team as a Projects Assistant working on RRC365 (Race, Religions and Cultures 365) campaign. Thanks to my time volunteering at Studenteer HQ, I’ve accepted my dream placement with UBS in their Community Affairs division working with charities and creating partnerships.

When did you first join Studenteer and why did you decide to stay on at SHQ?

I started volunteering in October 2020 as the Black History Month Intern. During this time, I researched charities, contacted great causes and created project briefs. I also created social media posts which I thoroughly enjoyed. So much so that I decided to stay on and be a part of the projects team at SHQ. Working in the projects team allows me to work on individual campaign projects and through this, I have improved vital transferable skills for the workplace. For example, working to deadline, prioritising tasks and building external partnerships. I have found volunteering such a rewarding experience and I have been supported by an amazing team of students at HQ which makes it so worthwhile.

What advice would you give anyone who is facing lots of job/placement rejections?

I started to apply for placements in Summer 2020 and had a difficult time to begin with as I received lots of rejections from companies. At first, it was quite disheartening, and I felt that I was consistently failing. However, I did not give up! I realised that my CV could be improved and I needed to build my confidence in completing psychometric tests and video interviews. As a result, I ensured that I practiced and practiced my interview skills. I would record myself, ask my friends and family to do mock interviews with me. I also found a bank of psychometric tests that I could practice continuously and gain confidence when answering questions in the job application process. I found that I was progressing further through roles! My main piece of advice would be not to give up, not every role is for you. Continue to build your skills and take on board any feedback companies as this could help in the next job application.

How did you ensure that your volunteering experience stood out on applications and on your CV?

Every achievement I have made, I write down even if the achievement may seem small. For example, over the years I have volunteered in various sectors i.e. a charity shop, a local café in a hospital and Studenteer. I explicitly wrote out the role I had and how I positively contributed to the various charities. By being clear and concise on your CV, recruiters are able to quickly identify the skillset you have. Instead of writing the skills you have, describe what you did to showcase these skills – be specific.

In your final interview, what specific examples did you give from your time at Studenteer?

The final interview stage was a video interview with 2 recruiters. I was asked for examples of working to deadline, collaboration, time management etc. I found it so easy to draw upon my experiences at Studenteer as, on the projects team, there is independence and one must be a self-starter, skills which are vital for the workplace. I talked about my campaign in October and my current campaign, RRC365 and my weekly tasks that I complete. For example, drawing up a list of causes to contact, creating social media posts, scheduling calls and drawing up project briefs. All these tasks may seem basic but the company was looking for someone who can research effectively, is organised, has competent writing skills and has a creative flair to design social media!

What advice would you give someone who would like to gain some extra experience but is concerned about how much time volunteering might take up?

One reason why I have stayed at Studenteer has been the flexibility of my role. As we are all students at HQ, we all understand at certain times of the year, we may be busier with academics and thus cannot commit as much time to volunteering. You can volunteer for as little as 2 hours to 4 days a week, it is up to you and your ability to management our time efficiently. It is also a great idea to volunteer for roles that you will actually enjoy and causes you personally support as you won’t reduce volunteering as just a way to gain skills for a CV but because you are genuinely passionate about helping others.

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