For those of you with science, engineering or maths skills, The STEM Ambassador Programme, nationally managed by STEMNET (the Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths Network) enables anyone to volunteer as an inspiring role model for young people aged 5-19. By offering to take part in a single activity per year, you have the ability to engage students in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths, by providing real life applications to the topics they learn in the classroom.
STEM Ambassadors come from a wide range of ages and occupations including environmental scientists, chemists, civil engineers, marine biologists, medical physicists, pharmacists, apprentices and energy analysts. Many volunteers comment on the sense of achievement they feel following volunteering activities, which also provide opportunities to develop communication and presentation skills, building self-confidence through interaction with students.
TEFL and TESOL
If you have more of a passion for language than numbers, you might want to consider teaching English as a foreign language (TEFL) or Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL).
If you’re adventurous with itchy feet, TEFL can be a great way of seeing exotic and exciting parts of the world without getting any further into your overdraft. TESOL can also include teaching English to foreign language speakers in the UK, if you don’t want to go so far afield.
This doesn’t require extensive training or knowledge of a foreign language, but does involve some training – sometimes an institution will offer to train you themselves, but you may want to gain an independent TEFL qualification.
As well as being excellent preparation for a career in teaching, teaching English develops your communications skills, and can be helpful in entering professions such as management and marketing.
This is a common choice for people before and after university, giving you a range of opportunities to experience new cultures, meet new people and generally have a great time. However, please be aware that employers may look negatively on someone who spends the whole year abroad without doing anything more productive than partying.
Use at least some of your time wisely; there is a huge range of volunteer placements available which can be arranged from the UK. These vary enormously in length and price, so make sure you do some research to find what you want to get out of it and at a price you can afford.
Alternatively you can find a full-time or part-time job whilst you are away. If you plan to work abroad, bear in mind that language and visa restrictions will vary depending on your own background, the type of work and the country you intend to work in.
Maths, IT and Sciences:
Politics and Public Sector:
- Voluntary research posts at the Foreign Policy Centre
- EU Youth in Action Programme for 18-25 year olds
Environment, transport and logistics:
People on benefits
If you’re out of work and looking to volunteer, please be aware that volunteering can affect your benefits claim. People can volunteer and claim benefits if:
- The only money you get from volunteering is to cover expenses, such as travel costs
- You continue to meet the conditions of the benefit you get this can involve spending a certain of time each week job searching, which affects the number of hours you can volunteer for.
Talk to someone at your Job Centre for more details.