The holidays between university are a time for relaxing, regaining strength and going on adventures. Jennifer Fernandez, LLB Law 2020, is undergoing her second year as one of your Student Volunteering Ambassadors. Jennifer tells us about her experience of volunteering over the summer and how it helped her to de-stress.
After a stressful end of term, I crashed into the summer holidays, with a numbing exhaustion and no work experience to look forward to for two months. After binge watching all of Downtown Abbey in my pyjamas, I decided I needed to do something meaningful with my time. I started researching and applying to all the law centres and charities of interest.
I quickly realized I should have done this in March, and not in May, but after a few weeks, I struck gold. I was invited for an interview at the Toynbee Hall Free Legal Advice Centre (FLAC). With no legal qualifications, significant work experience, or the required time commitment – I wasn’t exactly the most desirable candidate. I struck gold because I was still taken on and accommodated to work on multiple administrative tasks and to liaise with clients. I can sometimes spend hours cross-referencing information on different lists of volunteers, or updating details on client records, yet I really enjoy it. Studying law can become repetitive, abstract and ridiculously challenging, with a never quite attainable pay-off. The contrast of doing a small task that contributes to the overall efficiency of a law centre feels exhilarating and somehow revolutionary.
The constant interruptions and inefficient systems I can face, are such a welcome contrast, from my daily hours of reading in the silent zones of the library. It reminds me that in the real world, nothing is as simple or carefully crafted as a reading list. In the real world, the majority of people facing legal problems every day don’t have the luxury to study the law as I do. When I am listening to client voicemails at the Advice Centre, and recording every comprehensible detail, I hope that I am making a positive difference to their life. I remember why I decided to study law in the first place.
Volunteering over the summer has helped me connect with people again, people who are not over-stressed career-hungry LSE law students (although, of course, they are lovely too). It has helped me transition from a post-exam zombified state to a more humane level of existence.
I don’t know whether any of this makes me a good person or just inherently selfish, but at least I am aware of, where I can make my best contribution.
Interested in volunteering?
If Jennifer has inspired you to volunteer, check out one of our other 200+ ongoing opportunities or book a one-to-one with David Coles, the Volunteer Centre Manager if you have more questions. If you are short on time, then take a look at the one-off opportunities taking place in Lent Term organised by the LSE Volunteer Centre. And why not follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to stay up-to-date with our events and opportunities and read our blog for more volunteering tips and stories.