Full name: Bismark Sarpong
Degree title: BSc Psychology and Business
Year of study: Second year
Organisation name: Alzheimer’s Society
Job title: Side by Side volunteer
What does a typical day in your volunteering role look like?
My role is not complicated and does not require me to be in any particular location. I call my service user once every week to check on their well-being and provide all the necessary support they require. Most of my responsibilities are done through the phone or online.
What has been the highlight of your role so far?
The highlight of my role so far has been the friendship that I have been able to build with my service user. Our weekly call has become a custom or some sort of a tradition that cannot be missed. Also, being able to motivate my service user to get through a difficult time now due to coronavirus.
What skills have you developed?
I have developed my communication skills thoroughly, both listening and speaking. I have learnt how to have interesting conversations, build trustworthy friendship and getting to know someone on a deeper level. Also, I have good organisational skill as I balance my study, part-time work and volunteering.
Why did you decide to volunteer?
I decided to volunteer because I wanted to positively impact the lives of people in need. When I heard about the opportunity and lack of volunteers to help, I was touched by the stories of the service users and some volunteers. Also, I had a lot of free time and wanted to make good use out of it.
How do you juggle volunteering and studying?
What helped me to juggle volunteering and studying was the use of a diary. My university timetable did not clash with the time I do my volunteering, so it was not difficult to do both.
How have the skills and experience you’ve gained from your volunteering role helped you in other areas of your life?
Having this on my CV has helped me tremendously. Employers value people who give back to the community. It often becomes a conservation starter in interviews. This experience also gives me crucial examples that I use in interviews to answer competency questions.
It has also developed my ability to talk to new people at networking events, social gatherings and group projects. I have built my confidence in myself as a person too by seeing how much of an impact I have been able to make in people’s lives.
What advice would you give to other students thinking about or looking for a volunteering role?
I would recommend students to go for it without a doubt especially if you’re planning to do a placement. Make good use of your first year, attend career fairs and have regular communication with the Careers+Placements team. Having such experience shows that you are a well-rounded student, shows initiative and will be good example for competency-based questions during interviews.
What are your plans for the future?
I hope to start a career in any business-related role. Currently, I am about to begin my placement in operations. If I enjoy that, I will develop that further, but if not I will begin in HR and take it from there.