Updated on 7 July 2023

Volunteering is a great way to build your skills and enhance your employability, while at the same time giving something back to a great cause or charity.

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What is voluntary work/volunteering?

Volunteering is typically helping an organisation, such as a charity or voluntary organisation, and is usually unpaid, although you may receive reasonable expenses.

Some voluntary work placements (especially overseas) require you to raise funds in order to take part.

Many opportunities for voluntary work are with charities, some employers are happy to provide unpaid work experience. With a bit of imagination and initiative, you can create your own voluntary work. An employer is likely to be very impressed and receptive to someone who approaches them with a specific project or task in mind.

If there is a contractual obligation to perform work, this may be defined as voluntary work and international students on a tier 4 visa should be aware there may be limits of the amount of voluntary work they can undertake.

Why volunteer?

Each person’s reasons for volunteering are different. It helps to be aware of yours as they are often the key to finding the right voluntary work for you.

Personal reasons for volunteering

  • feeling strongly about a charity’s cause and wanting to help
  • having a year off to fill before going to university, starting a training course or job
  • a friend, who is a volunteer, asking you for your help
  • having time available on a regular basis and wanting to do something useful
  • wanting to meet new friends

Career benefits of volunteering

If you are thinking about developing your career, your reasons might include:

  • wanting to learn a new skill
  • trying to improve your employment prospects and add to your CV
  • needing specific practical experience before applying for a training course or job
  • thinking you might like to work in the voluntary sector but want to check it out first

Depending on your chosen career area you may find that relevant work experience is essential before you are considered for paid employment.

In these cases, voluntary work is less of an option than a necessity to gain the required experience. Environmental and media-related careers are two fields where this applies in particular, but any potential employer will be impressed by someone who has made considerable effort to gain work experience.

Another benefit of volunteering is that you are likely to receive some training and, depending on the nature of the work, this may be quite structured and detailed. Not only will you gain practical experience, but you will be trained in the skills and knowledge required before you begin the work. This will make you more attractive to a future employer.

There are lots of opportunities to volunteer on a part-time basis, perhaps offering your services for as little as a couple of hours a week. This means you could be a voluntary worker while studying for your degree - building up some valuable work experience during your time at University.

The UoD Volunteering and Work Experience Fair

We are delighted to announce that our Volunteering and Work Experience Fair will return in-person on Thursday 15 February 2024. This will give students a great opportunity to interact with a range of local charities and organisations to find out more about the different ways to volunteer and get involved.

Booking is not yet open to students so make sure you visit our events page regularly to keep up to date.

Student Volunteer Organisation of the Year Award

This award is a chance for you to nominate a great organisation for University of Dundee students to volunteer for, and in turn, for us to showcase the outstanding work they do.

Dundee Plus Award

The Dundee Plus Award aims to recognise skills developed by students through participation in a wide range of activities including those involving volunteering.

Visit the CareersPortal and select Dundee Plus Award to learn more.

Volunteering in Dundee

In Dundee, there are hundreds of opportunities to volunteer, many more than you might imagine. Check out the JobShop or contact Dundee Volunteer & Voluntary Action.

There are also so many fantastic ways to volunteer through DUSA 

You can find other volunteering opportunities:

Book an appointment with a careers adviser