Getting experience while studying

My name is Nico and I am a third year Liberal Arts student coming from Romania. This story is about how my previous position of vTeam Regular Projects Frontrunner helped me and why I would encourage more students to apply for one.

The road toward getting the position was not long as the purpose of a frontrunner position is to offer the students the opportunity to gain experience and earn money while they are studying. Therefore, I have done some volunteering since I came here and really liked the fact that I could gain experience and develop skills while helping people. Moreover, I joined different societies in my first year and then, became a member of the committee of one of them. This helped me gain experience in organising events and all the tasks I had gave me the opportunity to acquire more skills. Being involved in many activities would make one realise what he/she is good at or, maybe, the person can find new interests.

Although I was doing volunteering and I was involved in the committees of a few societies, I wanted to gain paid experience. I found out about frontrunners seeing a post on Facebook and realised that vTeam had their own frontrunners. I did not need to look at more placements as this is what I wanted to do. I applied for two of their placements and received the Regular Projects one.

So, I just told myself that this could be a great first opportunity for me. My impression was that this position would be suitable to me as it could be that placement where I might use my experience and skills in order to leave a legacy behind me. Being able to do something for community, helping the others is even better.

And my last point in making this decision was something personal. Well, most probably, when you were much younger, you were asked what you would like to be as a grown up. This created a lot of anxiety to me as I did not know the answer, this was not because I did not like anything, or was not interested in anything, but I liked too many things and could not find out what I was good at (I am still looking for this).

My frontrunner position required me to work on a considerable number of different tasks and with people having different backgrounds and interests. In my position I had to supervise a few Regular Projects which were completely different and I liked this because I learnt something from different subjects (coding, science, finance etc).

My role as a frontrunner was to make sure that the activities of 9/23 volunteering regular projects were run smoothly. In order to do this, I had to offer my help to the Project Leaders whenever they needed as well as answering their questions. Likewise, I prepared all the equipment they could need making sure it was enough for their sessions and volunteers. I also had to keep the contact with them all the time. Every week I used to ask them about their upcoming sessions as I needed to book the taxis for them. Additionally, from time to time, I recruited volunteers, Session Leaders and Communication Officers and worked on two Volunteering Fairs.

Apart form the regular tasks mentioned above, I also got involved in other projects. Although, I had to supervise 9 volunteering projects, I still had time to go to other projects where my supervisors needed help. I went to quite a few one-off projects where I coordinated the volunteers and took photos of the projects. Other projects I was involved in were the fortnightly sessions in SU Bar when I used to attract students to do voluntary work and 'Give It Food' campaign when we asked students to donate food that would go to the people from Colchester Night Shelter.

I can now say that the position was challenging and rewarding at the same time. It was not just I gained valuable experience, but I developed lots of skills: from team management, team work, and organisation to communication, interpersonal skills, presentation and public speaking skills.

As a result of my placement, I gained experience and skills, met new people and also made friends, but most importantly, after my placement ended, during the summer of 2016, I received 4 job offers out of which I accepted 2.

Now, in my final year, I have 3 jobs: Employability and Student Engagement Frontrunner Plus, Research Assistant (UROP) for Institute for Social and Economic Research and Training and Development Assistant (internship) for Knowledge Pathways International.


Created with images by jarmoluk - "education a good idea an array of"

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