SOAS University of London

Volunteering Unit

Making the most of volunteering

Volunteering is an excellent way to build up skills and experiences which will boost job applications for students when they leave university – as well as providing an opportunity to meet new people, settle into a new area and ‘give something back’ to the community. SOAS supports all students to volunteer during their time at university and encourages students to consider the different opportunities that are open to them.

In order to maximise the skills gained from volunteering, it is crucial to reflect on the activities carried out – for example keeping a diary of your volunteering activity. This will enable you to highlight the transferable skills that you have developed.

There is no definitive list of ‘transferable skills’, they are simply skills learned in one context that are useful in another. They often include competencies such as:

  • Team work
  • Sales
  • Flexibility
  • Communication
  • Work ethic
  • Leadership

Employers will define the skills they are looking for from candidates and will look for evidence that they have developed these skills during the recruitment process. Think of examples from your volunteering activities that show you have demonstrated these skills.

For example, helping in a local youth club may have enabled you to develop strong problem solving skills – 'As voluntary team leader at a local youth club, I was entrusted with the safety of the children when the parents left. I learnt how to resolve conflicts through mediation. I also needed to adopt a professional approach to troubleshooting by liaising frequently with and actively listening to other team members'.

The Careers Service can provide guidance on further ways to reflect on your volunteering experience to make yourself stand out in applications. Book an appointment for a CV Check or come into SL62 to look at our Information Resources.