Case study

Remote volunteer — Louise Andrews

After completing the first year of a marketing and management degree at Newcastle University, Louise has spent time during the COVID-19 lockdown undertaking remote voluntary work

What were you hoping to get out of this volunteering experience?

I wanted to gain work experience, specifically in digital marketing and strategy, to further develop my skills.

Volunteering has provided structure and brought some normality to my days during lockdown, which I was really missing as I like to be busy and keep my mind active.

How has COVID-19 affected your work or study plans?

The pandemic has definitely affected me. Since the closure of my university, I've had to adapt to studying virtually, as well as taking exams online - although I'm very proud to be ending the year with a 2:1. This summer, I had plans to go to a school in Europe and after that go travelling, but unfortunately they were both cancelled.

How did you find out about Studenteer?

I found out about Studenteer through LinkedIn. One of my connections had shared a post about Furlonteer. So, interested to find out more, I went online and discovered that there was a version targeted towards students.

Tell us a bit about your remote volunteering opportunity.

On the Studenteer website, it was quick and easy to complete the sign-up form, highlighting what skills I wanted to develop. Studenteer matched me with a project and a mentor based on my interests and time commitments.

For over a month now, I've been working as a marketing strategist volunteer with Birthlight, a non-profit organisation dedicated to increasing the health and wellbeing of women and their families during and after pregnancy.

Together with my mentor Sarah, we've created new campaigns and marketing strategies to relaunch both the Birthlight and Lullaby Quilt websites and social media channels.

What's a typical day like?

My day actually starts at 3am. I've been working shifts at Iceland since the start of lockdown, picking online orders before the store opens to the public. I've found that volunteering has been easy to fit in alongside my job.

At the beginning of each week, Sarah will email me, outlining tasks we could work on together and also tasks for me to work on independently.

Some of these things include:

  • copywriting for the website
  • creating social media content for the relaunch
  • creating and proposing a social media strategy
  • offering suggestions on how Birthlight can increase engagement and have a more effective online presence.

How did you find the transition from study to work?

I've always worked part time while studying since I left high school. I became good at managing my time when organising assignments and prioritising deadlines, so it wasn't too difficult.

What have you enjoyed about your remote work placement?

I love how involved I am with the campaign. My ideas are listened to and a lot were actually implemented. I received positive feedback on the work I produced and the team at Birthlight are really friendly and open to any suggestions that I have.

What's the most challenging part?

I think having to work virtually was definitely a challenge, as it has been for everyone working from home during lockdown. However, I got used to Zoom after a few weeks and have been virtually meeting and communicating with the rest of the team on a weekly basis.

In what ways has Studenteer supported you?

Throughout my placement, the Studenteer team have been communicating with me to see how I'm doing and making sure I'm happy with the placement. Sarah has also been very supportive and ensures I'm able to work around my shift schedule.

How do you think the experience will benefit your career?

Volunteering with Studenteer has been a perfect opportunity to gain some valuable work experience during lockdown.

This academic year, I'll be applying for industry placements as part of my degree. Having this experience on my CV shows employers I've been using my initiative and that I'm passionate about a career in marketing.

In September, I'll also be starting a new role at university as an activities assistant. Volunteering has increased my confidence in digital marketing and strategy, which will help me with the marketing side of my new role.

What advice would you give others considering remote volunteering?

  • Make the placement work for you - Think about the skills you want to learn and develop, so you get as much out of the experience as you can.
  • Consider your time commitments - Decide how much time you can realistically commit to the project. You can volunteer a minimum of three hours per week. If you're already working, let your mentor know so they can help to plan this around your schedule.
  • Utilise your mentor - Your mentor is there to support you, so be honest if you need help or something explaining.

I highly recommend remote volunteering - using your skills and learning new ones can make a huge difference to a charity. I'm really grateful to Studenteer for providing this opportunity throughout lockdown for students like myself who would otherwise have struggled to find work experience.

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