How volunteering helped land a dream job
20 January 2022
Nick Kira volunteered in the charityâ€™s engagement and communications department for four months until the New Year. His placement was part of his recovery journey following a bleed on his brain in summer 2021. In his blog, Nick writes about his experience.
Finally, after a year of looking â€“ a real slog â€“ Iâ€™ve landed a job. A good job. One that I actually wanted, as opposed to one that just had my job title (copywriter) at the top.
And Iâ€™d say my volunteering role with the Royal Free Charity had a large part to play in this, for which Iâ€™m ever so grateful.
It was a kind of happy accident that led to me volunteering for the charity. I knew of them through my sister, who works there. Iâ€™d also not long been treated â€“ and particularly well looked after â€“ at Barnet Hospital, one of three hospitals that make up the Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust.
I was recovering from what I described as a medical mishap: out of the blue, back in June, I had a bleed on the brain. It was the team at Barnet Hospital who diagnosed this and who quickly got me to a specialist unit at Queen Square Neurological Hospital.
This is why I had some time free â€“ I was told that it would take up to 12 weeks to recover and I would be affected both physically and mentally. My concentration and memory were shot and, as a result, my confidence took a knock â€“ particularly in my ability to write (essential for my job). Iâ€™m a copywriter by trade â€“ thatâ€™s someone who writes for marketing purposes: that can be the wording on newspaper adverts, billboards, or emails, for example.
I approached the charity directly, to see if â€“ rather than taking up a hospital-based position â€“ I could work in their communications team. I knew Iâ€™d get something out of it â€“ building up my confidence again â€“ and I hoped that the charity would too: I had experience of working within the charity sector so figured that could come in handy.
Luckily the comms team needed an extra pair of hands, so I found myself on board. And right from the get-go I found myself in the thick of things. The charity was smack bang in the middle of a major fundraising appeal, called Breaking Point.
To give a little context, it takes months of planning for a project like this: assets are needed across a range of platforms including for outdoor adverts, roller banners, posters, social media channels, direct mail â€“ the list goes on.
For me this was a good opportunity, as it allowed me to get stuck in straight away â€“ at no point was I left twiddling my thumbs. I was first tasked with coming up with copy for posters that would be displayed in London Underground stations and on telephone kiosks as part of the Breaking Point appeal.
I moved on to writing web and social media copy for new fundraising events that supporters can sign up to, including Go Free and Ramble Free. After that, I undertook an audit of the website content – to check for grammar, typos, broken links, and outdated contact info – before moving on to what become the mainstay of my work: researching and writing stories about the charityâ€™s volunteers.
These stories are collected to highlight the amazing work volunteers do in support of the Royal Free London and to maybe encourage others to come on board. I enjoyed interviewing them, over umpteen cappuccinos, then whipping their stories into shape.
All of this boosted my confidence in my own ability once more, aided my concentration, and â€“ I hope â€“ took a tiny bit of pressure off the communications team as they delivered the fundraising appeal.
Itâ€™s this confidence that I took into recent job interviews, having genuine bits of recent work to talk about, and which ultimately landed me the job Iâ€™ve just started.
I also have to thank all of my communications team colleagues who made me feel welcome â€“ including me in team meetings, lunch conversations, and giving me plenty of work to do â€“ and helped me settle in.
If anyone asked me, Iâ€™d certainly recommend volunteering to gain invaluable experience â€“ it definitely worked for me.