‘Social Enterprise and Volunteering’ can improve your skills

Enterprise and Employability Week continued its success on Tuesday, November 17, as the Opportunities@Lincoln team hosted a “Social Enterprise and Volunteering” workshop in the new Enterprise building, giving students the chance to gain valuable skills to further their careers.

A “Social enterprise” is a socially-driven organisation using market-based strategies to achieve a purpose purely for the benefit of the community, rather than a profit as a private company would strive for. This may sound complex, but the result is these businesses offer a lot of opportunities for students to get some experience.

Angela Porter, a “social enterprise advisor”, together with the District Councillor of Caistor Alan Kaine, created a presentation for the students in which they demonstrated the benefits of volunteering within a socially motivated organisation. They spoke of having over 1,000 social enterprises that they can link students in with as a volunteering exercise, ranging from architecture and interior design projects, to local council schemes.

“It’s real-life, hands-on stuff and a great chance to involve students alongside professionals. Plus it can really enhance your CV,” Porter said.

Jacqui Thompson runs her own successful enterprise, offering forensic science master classes to primary and secondary schools around Lincolnshire. She gave an insight into how enterprise can be a lot more exciting than you first imagine. Thompson feels it is best to begin with an enjoyment or passion and then develop it into a successful project.

“It is so exciting as well as incredibly motivating to be able to create a business focused around what you love,” she said.

As well as this, community volunteers Jane Kilby and Pam Holbrook, who work with the Students’ Union, were there to give the students the option of having an individual discussion about the route they want to take within the volunteering network. They spoke about the benefits on a personal as well as an academic level.

“Students can achieve such a massive amount from doing this. They would gain important learning and socialising skills, as well as a practical experience to help them confirm their work choice,” Holbrook said. “Not only this, but it is completely optional as to how many hours they want to put in.”

Kilby added that this academic year has been the most successful for volunteer placements. “At the minute, we have in excess of 400 students, and 90 have already been placed since September,” she said.

They went on to say that they believed this was because students are becoming increasingly aware that experience is vital when leaving university and applying for jobs.

David Murphy, a first-year sports development and coaching student, attended the workshop. He was really impressed with the talk as it has given him some ideas for finding valuable work experience.

“On my course we need at least five hours [of] work experience a week, but I had no idea where to look. The workshop was a massive help and has really pushed me in the right direction,” Murphy said.

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