Every year we love to catch up with our student volunteers to hear about their experiences and listen to their reflections. Sarah Blicker (BSc in Management, 2021) spoke about her experience volunteering as a mentor for the Off Campus Support Scheme ran by Student Services at LSE. They’re currently recruiting volunteers for next year and you can find out more here.
What volunteering were you involved in?
This year I volunteered to mentor first year students that live off-campus. Typically, students that do not live in LSE halls of residence may face different challenges than their fellow students. The Off Campus Support Scheme is essentially a support system to help these students, as well as General Course students, integrate into student life at LSE. Each volunteer mentor is assigned a group of mentees that are in the same degree program. Throughout the year there are different events including quiz nights, receptions and small group meetings. This year, due to decreased social contact because of COVID-19, this mentorship program has been incredibly valuable in building relationships and helping new students feel part of the LSE community.
What skills did you develop through volunteering?
I didn’t volunteer to develop skills; for that I turn to internships or academic opportunities. Part of being a student at LSE, to me, means helping improve the student experience for others. I volunteered in order to share what I’ve learned and help make first-year students feel welcome and connected. In hindsight, if I had to reflect upon skills developed as a by-product, I think that leadership skills and specifically leading diverse groups has been important.
How did you manage volunteering and other commitments such as your studies?
Firstly, everybody has different responsibilities and different time periods throughout the year that carry more pressure, so it is important to create a balanced schedule where you can succeed in all your goals while still challenging yourself. I would say the thing that allows me to manage volunteering along with other commitments is creating very clear schedules to stick to. Conquering time management has been a huge advantage—and is a continuous goal.
How did volunteering change your LSE experience?
Every opportunity taken at LSE has shaped my experience in a slightly different way. What stands out to me about volunteering as a mentor is that it is truly a chance to give back to the community. Not only is it a chance to give back, but it is a chance to help fellow students in a position that you were once in. I think that many students probably have the thought “I wish I knew this before” whether it is specific to how courses run, about a certain opportunity, or just advice for navigating different first-year situations. The meaningful (and also fun) part about this program is helping others where a significant part of your ability to do so comes from experiences that you have had. It is an honour to be part of the LSE community and I am fortunate to have had this opportunity to help empower others.
What would you tell other LSE students to encourage them to volunteer?
Beyond academics, I think that a significant part of what makes LSE a fantastic place are the networks that we become part of. Many of these networks are sustained by students who are constantly volunteering their time and effort. I am very fortunate to be a part of this community and to be able to help sustain and grow it. The Volunteer Centre provides so many opportunities to give back within (and beyond) LSE that there are truly opportunities for everybody to help create positive change.
Want to become a mentor? Find out more here!
If Sarah has inspired you to volunteer, check out one of our other ongoing opportunities. You can also book a one-to-one with David Coles, the Volunteer Centre Manager if you have more questions. 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.