By Megan Griffiths
Volunteering with the WCIA over the past few months and this last week has been an invaluable experience as I have been able to pick up and learn many new skills. I volunteered for half a day every week for the past few months, finishing with a week-long placement after my exams. Undertaking just a half day each week may seem, to some, a short time that isn’t really worth it. I’d say the opposite because I’ve been able to pick up different skills and learn new things in a short space of time gradually over the weeks, but also, I’ve found it so refreshing to get out of the all-consuming ‘uni bubble’ for a couple of hours a week and meet and work alongside different people. [And realistically, if not volunteering, I would probably have ending up spending my Wednesday mornings at home in my pyjamas, vowing to start revising tomorrow.] During my full week placement, I’ve had more time to carry out and complete more extensive tasks.
I’ve found the whole experience rewarding because I have actually been able to undertake relevant, interesting tasks, as opposed to being resigned to photocopying and making tea. My roles have been really varied: researching heritage, writing blog posts, communications through Facebook and email and website optimisation to name a few. I’ve surprised myself with how much I’ve enjoyed working on the website and the different programs, such as optimising the website to make it more accessible for search engines to pick up. Before starting, I would have told you that I’m not a techy person in the slightest but I feel completely at home adding to and updating the website and basic html code now. The same goes for using social media. I’ve enjoyed looking at how social media can be used to connect with people and provide a link between the public and the WCIA. Finding the right balance of WCIA news and interesting content related to international issues relevant to the organisations ethos that I could share on the Facebook page was particularly enjoyable. It has also been interesting to go through the branding and communications guidelines as I have never had to work within a specific set of rules to enhance the look of the website and how an organisation communicates with its audience through the tone and voice that you use. Volunteering has given me an insight into how organisations really work behind the scenes, so to speak, as well as the chance to learn skills I wouldn’t have necessarily been exposed to through my degree alone.