If you’re looking to give back to the community, help people/an organisation that needs some extra support or generally do something to get the feel good factor, volunteering is the way to go. Moreover, it’s a great way of developing personal and professional skills to boost your employability after graduation.
We caught up with Eric Lam, a 2015/16 EDGE Volunteer, who told us why he decided to volunteer and how it’s changed his outlook and prospects in life.
Why did you decide to take part in the EDGE Volunteering programme and what impact did being part of it have on your life?
Exams are not my strongest suit and having studied Biomedical Science, quite an exam heavy degree, I knew I had to impress employers in other ways when it came to job interviews. I began to explore ways in which I could show that I’ve got more than just a degree when I found out about the ‘Bristol’s Future Award’. Having already completed the minimum of 2/3 activities, being ‘President of the UWE Badminton Club’ and completing a summer research project, volunteering took my interest because it gave me the opportunity to learn new skills and give something back to the UWE community.
When I started the EDGE programme, I was able to get funding for my Level 1 Badminton Coaching course in return for 30 minutes coaching basic badminton to beginners at my club during social sessions every week. I was also able to volunteer at the first ever ‘Glow Games’, hosted by UWE Centre for Sports, helping set up glow in the dark badminton.
What was the best thing about being part of the EDGE volunteering programme?
Volunteering exposes you to learn new skills, ones that you don’t necessarily gain until you need them in the outside world, be it teamwork, communication, motivation and many more. These are the transferable skills employers look for when selecting a candidate. Interviewers may ask you competency based questions to which you’ll have examples which demonstrate these skills.
What are you up to now and do you have any plans for the future?
Having now graduated from UWE, I am currently employed by Ashfield, an international healthcare services company. Within Ashfield, I work for a medical device company called Medtronic as a Training and Implementation Specialist.
My future plan is to succeed in this role and progress to become a Medical Device Sales Representative in a given region. Looking further ahead, my goal is to a relocate to a different country to work for the company.
I believe volunteering has helped me achieve my job and where I am right now. It puts you ahead of the competition as it shows that you have achieved more than your degree. Volunteering and exposing yourself to different environments means that you can learn different transferable skills, so that when you are questioned during interview, you can demonstrate your ability in the answer with an example.
“It gave me the opportunity to learn new skills and give something back to the UWE community.”
Eric Lam, EDGE Volunteer
The Centre for Sport’s EDGE Volunteering programme offers a range of flexible opportunities to students and staff so there’s something for everyone that will fit into your busy lifestyle.
You can volunteer at local schools, sports clubs, colleges, The Student’s Union and at the Centre for Sport. Opportunities include coaching, event organisation, web design, IT support, media, marketing and promotion.
The programme also offers funding to complete coaching and officiating courses in return for a pre-agreed number of voluntary hours.
To find out more about the EDGE Volunteering Programme and how to start volunteering, head to the volunteering pages of the Centre for Sport website.