LSE Careers Consultant Joanne Carrington has volunteered in her local community during the past year with Macmillan Cancer Support. Jo advises prospective volunteers to think about how their existing skills base can add value to an organisation and to consider what they might like to get out of volunteering before committing their time. We caught up with Joanne about her volunteering experiences.

My motivations for volunteering stemmed from wanting to meet people in my local area and wanting to contribute to the community in a positive way. Having moved from a small community, where I felt part of what was going on day-to-day, to living in a large town, I felt volunteering would be a good way to help me feel more connected to my neighbours and local issues.

I began searching on the Do-it website where I had found interesting voluntary opportunities in the past. I thoroughly recommend this website to search for voluntary roles if your access to the LSE vacancy board has expired and if you are working full-time as lots of the opportunities are flexible. I found an opportunity with national charity Macmillan Cancer Support to help them in setting up and running their large events. I thought this would be a good way to meet other volunteers and the public from around the area and be involved in a charity that has supported members of my own family in the past.

On expressing my interest in this position with Macmillan I was informed about another opportunity whereby I could be part of a small group of volunteers who actually organise the events from start to finish. I decided that this opportunity would enable me to meet a group of people who I would work with on a regular basis, allowing me to build solid relationships with them. I also felt it would give me the chance to be involved in more events, which would in turn enable me to meet a wider cross-section of the community.

A year on and the position has fulfilled my motivations for volunteering. I’ve met a nice group of people, have organised and helped run a number of events in the local community and have raised money for a truly worthwhile cause. I feel better integrated in my local community as I have met many new people, and attended numerous community events that I wouldn’t have otherwise known about. I’m even proud to be seen sporting a bright green Macmillan t-shirt!

What have I learnt from the experience? Although my motivations have been met, I think next time I would also spend a little longer considering the role I was committing time to. I decided to do this position for social and community reasons and didn’t think too deeply about the actual tasks I would be doing. Some of the tasks do not play to my strengths or interests and have led to an earlier than expected demotivation for the role. I appreciate that with anything in life there will be aspects you enjoy and those that are less enjoyable, however, I have learnt that as well as the social motivations I also want to enjoy the tasks in order to apply myself fully and make the best of the opportunity. This isn’t something I would have known prior to starting the role, but is something I will consider when looking to volunteer in the future.

You might be looking to volunteer to help build your skills profile, or to increase your network and add to your work experience. You might like to volunteer to give back to your community, or to help a cause close to your heart. Whatever your motivations for volunteering, always keep them in mind when looking at available opportunities, as this should enable the experience to be truly fulfilling.

See our website for more information about the LSE Volunteer Centre and voluntary opportunities in the UK and overseas.