All good things must come to an end, right?
Sadly as my time at university is coming to an end and I’m soon about to graduate and move back home, this means my time as a TLC volunteer must also come to its end. So, I thought this would be a perfect time to reflect on my TLC experience, what I’ve learnt and what I would say to people thinking about taking up a volunteering position, or anything new they may want to do in life.
About a year and a half ago I went into a bit of an existential panic about what I was going to do with my life after uni, what career path I wanted to take and what experience I actually had alongside my degree. I like to think this kind of panic is a student rite of passage and although I still can’t tell you exactly what I want to do or where I want to be when I’m released into the big wide world, my time as a Marketing Volunteer at TLC has definitely given me a deeper understanding, insight and experience of the field I want to get into. It was around this time that I was simply browsing through the ‘Volunteering Opportunities’ section on my university website and came across the position for a Marketing Volunteer at a relationships charity – TLC: Talk, Listen, Change. As a Business student, particularly interested in marketing, this position sounded completely perfect for me and I was really excited at the prospect of potentially being able to do this.
However, with the excitement came my own self-doubts and lack of confidence having not really had much work or volunteering experience before and I started to think if I would even be good enough for the position and the kind of person they were looking for. I was so nervous before my first meeting with Paige, which now seems ridiculous! I think it’s often easier to let these thoughts take over and almost talk yourself out of doing something outside of your comfort zone, but what I would say is one of the main things I’ve taken away from this experience is, don’t doubt yourself! If you want to do something or take up an opportunity, just do it, as you probably won’t regret it.
Before this whole experience, I didn’t really know what to expect from volunteering. I always imagined it to just be a role where I wouldn’t have many responsibilities and instead I would just help out here and there, making myself useful wherever I can. I couldn’t have been more wrong about volunteering at TLC. From the outset I was really made to feel part of the team, encouraged to share my opinions and ideas and trusted with responsibilities I never imagined having, from blog-writing to strategising to managing TLC’s social media and joining creative mind-mapping meetings.
“This whole experience has not only equipped me with real-life skills and knowledge that I don’t necessarily get to learn or practice at uni, but it’s also given me a new level of confidence both in the field and personally.”
Not to mention discovering so much about all the amazing work that TLC does, and continues to do, for safe and healthy relationships, a lot of which I was so naïve to before.
Being able to work with TLC flexibly all while studying for my degree has been invaluable. Before starting this was actually one of my main concerns… would I be able to balance it all? Ultimately it is down to you and how you manage your time but I couldn’t have done it without the flexibility that TLC gave me. From arranging meetings either at the office or in town that fitted around my timetable, to writing blogs in my own spare time and managing the social media pages whilst back home during my summer holidays. My advice for someone who is thinking of taking on a volunteering role alongside other responsibilities would be to firstly consider how committed you are the role and make sure that you’re not taking on more than you have the time or ability to handle and secondly, if you are struggling to communicate this. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself.
I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time at TLC and am so glad that I took the leap and am so grateful for the experience I have had. I’m leaving uni and Manchester, not only with a degree, but with experiences and life lessons that I will carry with me wherever I end up.
Thank You TLC.