Whilst studying for her BA Comparative Literature at UCL, Adrianna Chmielewska also volunteered with Action Tutoring. Graduating in 2020, she now works as a teacher.
Where are you currently working?
I am an English teacher at a secondary school in Hampshire, England. My role is quite widespread, as apart from building pupils’ skills in reading and writing and creating teaching resources, I offer pastoral support as a personal tutor.
What volunteering were you involved with whilst you were at UCL?
I volunteered as a tutor at Action Tutoring, a charity offering tuition to disadvantaged pupils before their exams. For over two years, I took part in 1-hour sessions in secondary schools across London and, during lockdown, online. Apart from that, I also promoted Action Tutoring at UCL during volunteering fairs and helped mark assessment papers to check pupils’ skills before the tutoring sessions began.
What useful skills and experiences did you gain as a volunteer when you were at UCL?
The fact that the role involved travelling to different schools in London and speaking to current and potential volunteers boosted my confidence. It was also a great first opportunity to gain interpersonal skills and a sense of responsibility towards young people before I was able to find a part-time job in the same sector.
How has volunteering helped you in your career so far?
Volunteering with Action Tutoring gave me a valuable first experience of working with young people in a school setting. From a more theoretical perspective, I gained insight into how different skills are assessed in an exam context, and how to best prepare the pupils to meet exam demands. I could transfer my knowledge of literature to teach how to write creatively and analyse literary texts.
Volunteering also helped me build the more practical skills required when teaching. I learnt how important it is for young people to have someone patient, kind and compassionate to guide them through exam revision, but also to have someone to talk to about anything else that happens in their lives. As the sessions usually allowed some off-learning talk, I could get to know my tutees better and enthuse about their ambitions for the future. Most importantly, I recognised how socio-economic disadvantage can prevent young people from realising their full potential, which is something I wish to address as my career progresses.
What would you say to UCL students considering whether or not to volunteer?
If you are debating whether or not to volunteer, don’t hesitate! There are plenty of organisations and options that would warmly welcome your support. The best way to learn about them is to make the most of UCL’s Volunteering Fairs, talking to representatives from any organisations that might interest you. Volunteering is a wonderful and rewarding way to learn about various communities in central London. The beauty of volunteering in London is that you never know what kind of community you could find yourself helping!
I recognised how socio-economic disadvantage can prevent young people from realising their full potential, which is something I wish to address as my career progresses.