How can I join an NGO as a fresher?
Are you looking to get a head start on your NGO career whilst starting your university course? Here are some suggestions to get you started:
Make good use of Freshers Week
Whether it is happening in person or online, Freshers Week is one place to start your research into joining an NGO.
- Bear in mind that Freshers Week is usually fast and frantic so try to prioritise your time and attend the events that are really important to you
- Find out if there is a designated Volunteering Fair as part of the week – that will be the ideal place to meet charities seeking to engage students with their work.
If the week flashes by and you have been too busy having fun, don’t despair, there are other opportunities to get involved with NGOs…
Maximise placements and holidays
Can you use your degree placements/sandwich year to work short term for an NGO, for example, as a researcher? Alternatively, use your holidays wisely! Search online charity job boards for temporary/interim roles for the long summer holidays.
Use your Student Union (SU)
Discover the partnerships your SU already with NGOs and you might find a natural connection
- Find out about your RAG Organisation (Raising and Giving) - most UK universities have one and as well as raising money, students are responsible for issuing grants and nominating “Charity of the Year”
- Consider applying for positions on your Students Union Executive – there will often be a “Welfare Adviser” role, responsible for linking with NGOs – a great first step on the career ladder
- Investigate www.peopleandplanet.org – a student network campaigning for social and environmental justice. They also provide training and support with careers in the charity sector
Start by finding your university Volunteer Co-ordinator and talking to them about the type of NGO you want to get involved with. Consider:
- Sharing an NGO’s post on social media
- Writing a recommendation/review for one of their campaigns
- Using an app to record data (for example number of wildlife sightings in your local park)
- For example, stewarding at a sponsored bike ride
Sign up as a campaigner with your chosen NGO and get involved by
- Signing petitions
- Writing to your MP
- Sharing a press release
And finally…Consider freelancing
If you already have specific skills and experience from a previous part time job, particularly in admin, IT, finance, media or communications, you could consider approaching NGOs to offer short term freelance support.
- Freelancing sites such as People Per Hour and UpWork and can be good ways to get started - you might find yourself working for a small NGO which doesn’t have a big permanent staff team
- Many NGOs who fundraise from the general public have a designated day/week of the year, which is their biggest fundraising moment, so there will be a spike in need for staff around that time
Good Luck with getting started!