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We spoke with 3rd Year Chemistry student Rianna Pindoria, who has been busy volunteering at Ongoing placements, at One-Off Events and with Student-Led Projects!

Read how volunteering enabled her to learn more about her interests, gain insight into the charity sector and led her to a part-time job.

Tell us about your volunteering.

I volunteered at the Science Museum for around 10 months as an Object Handling volunteer, conducting object handling sessions to members of the public. I was even offered a part-time job at the museum, which I worked at for 8 months, because they saw how passionate I was about volunteering.

Why did you start volunteering with the Science Museum?

I volunteered in the ‘Information Age’ gallery. It was based around computers and technology, which I already had an interest in. I volunteered with people who were in the Armed Forces, who had used many of the items that were on display in the collection. It was amazing to learn about the revolutionary technological advances first-hand.

How did you find out about the role?

I found it scrolling through the Directory on the Volunteering Service website. I knew what the Volunteering Service did and how they supported students with their volunteering, so I thought it’d be a good place to start. I already had a lot of volunteering experience, from working in charity shops to fundraising, so I wanted to try something different.

What were the benefits of volunteering at the Science Museum?

It built my confidence, especially in terms of public speaking and being able to have engaging conversations with both young children and adults.

At the Science Museum I volunteered once every three weeks for four hours on a Saturday. They provided snacks and reimbursed travel, so I felt really appreciated. It ended up being very rewarding knowing I was doing something proactive with my time, which I would have spent watching TV otherwise.

Were there any challenges that you had to overcome?

Having to learn what I was talking about! Visitors ranged from not knowing anything to those who contributed to the making of the iconic Nokia phone! People asked about schematics and I had no idea! But the visitors are aware that you’re a volunteer and you’re contributing your time to the Museum, which they do appreciate.

What other volunteering opportunities have you been involved with?

Over the summer I volunteered at Ambitious About Autism. I was a Fundraising Assistant in their office for three days a week, assisting with their upcoming events. My remit included social media work, increasing numbers and engagement, and helping with the organisation and planning of events.

Did you get a good insight into how the charity sector works?

Definitely! This was the main thing I wanted to get from my volunteering. I always thought the charity sector was a well-rounded one and I’ve always been volunteering in front-of-house roles, so it was really refreshing to be behind the scenes at Ambitious About Autism! Even though I was in the fundraising team, I got to shadow the Finance department, the PR team and the Schools Team.

I was unsuccessful in gaining those highly sought after summer internships, and so I treated this volunteering experience as my chance to gain some valuable work experience. I learnt so much about the logistics of running a charity and through working on site of their specialist school I got to see directly how the money fundraised helps change the lives of young people with autism.

I also got to use a popular charity database called Raiser’s Edge, which you don’t get to use when you’re front-of-house. They taught me how to use it, so if I was ever interested in going for other roles I would already know how to get myself there.

Would you recommend volunteering to other students?

When I was speaking to other UCL students at a Volunteering Fair, a lot of them said they’d love to volunteer but don’t have the time. For those who are unable to commit regularly to volunteering, I would highly recommend One-Off opportunities. Ambitious About Autism was taking part in the Half-Marathon in October and I popped down to volunteer one Sunday morning. It made me want to actually take part in the marathon next year!

So you’re really engaged all parts of our service!

It just worked out that way! The Science Museum role was science-based and Ambitious About Autism was health-based - it just led me to volunteer with UCL Marrow, which is a Student-Led Project. I recently joined the project and have volunteered for several hours already. You get to engage with students on campus - that’s been the hardest role in terms of engagement. We had skills training on communication and student attraction, which really helped.

Any top tips?

I came to UCL wanting to try everything I possibly could.  If you plan properly, you can always find the time to do what you want. I play sports, am on society committees and I volunteer – there’s always time, you’ve just got to make it.

If reading Rianna’s story has got you inspired to volunteer, sign up to our newsletter to be the first to hear about new roles.

If you liked the sound of Rianna’s experience at the Science Museum, take a look at our latest museums and galleries roles. Or, if Ambitious About Autism was more your thing, you can browse health volunteering roles instead!