As today is International Volunteer Day, I want to highlight how volunteering has benefitted me personally and my community. I have been volunteering with my old secondary school for the past 3 years where I work with year 11 students in helping them practise at interviewing. The way this is set up is a group of employees or ex-students come to the school for the day and interview 6 students each, giving them feedback on what they did well and what, in their opinion, could do with improving. The students also give us a brief overview of their CV and about themselves which we also provide feedback on and lastly, they ask questions from a prep sheet given to each of us at the start.
I got involved in this volunteer opportunity when I was approached by the school as I was the highest academic achieving student the school has ever had. It was funny hearing this because when I left the school in 1991, I only had 3 GCSE but through hard work and determination, I have moved up and accomplished more in the proceeding decades. Now I have completed 2 masters, an undergraduate degree and Fellowship of the APM.
We don’t get to see the same students as they move on each year, but I have seen huge talent from these young people and what I have learnt is all they need is an open door to walk through and they will blossom. However, there was one student in particular who inspired me to challenge myself more. This one student told me about a book he wrote during the lockdown about what life was like in lockdown with autism. He was able to publish it on Amazon and he is now looking at publishing a second book on poetry. This would be amazing for any child to do but for one with an issue which can affect concentration, it’s a statement of his hard work. I, myself, have Asperges which is on the autism spectrum and while I have found it hard writing papers for university, the dedication of writing a book at his age shows me that I need to push myself more and get out of my comfort zone.
I’m also involved in other volunteering opportunities such as attending as a guest lecture online for universities on my specialist subject of risk and so far, I have lectured to students from Liverpool, Bath and Leeds as well as London School of Business on courses ranging from undergraduate project management to master's degree program on either project management or risk. This volunteering opportunity has helped me become a better educator as my job is teaching apprenticeships APM level 4 and I have had to develop better slides and improve my general knowledge in order to answer the sometimes complicated and unique questions the students ask.
This has been my first year volunteering with the APM and being part of 2 SIG groups and they have really helped me grow on a personal level and learn new skills such as taking the time to stand and listen to my students and consider other ways of explaining a topic to help them understand - volunteering has helped me be a better person in every way. Every time I do a lecture or a practise interview, I learn more from the students and improve my communication skills.
I would recommend to any member to volunteer as you will gain from it, and it’s always good to change your view of the world and help others start their journeys in project management.
You may also be interested in:
- Volunteering with APM
- Volunteering with APM – opportunities for everyone webinar
- APM forum highlights the value of volunteering