Ania Vinogradov is a fourth-year student studying BSc Geography. She told us her experience of volunteering with PPL PWR in a variety of roles, including content writer, social media secretary and online events organiser and how the experience benefitted both her academic and personal life. 

Tell us a little about your volunteering.

I am working as a content writer, social media secretary and online events organiser for the collective PPL PWR.

How did you find out about the role?

I found this role through the UCL Volunteering directory, after searching through the environmental-related volunteering categories. 

Why did you want to become a volunteer? 

To enrich my final year of UCL, network with people in the industry I wish to go into post-university, and broaden my horizons.  

What difference do you feel you’ve made by volunteering?

I think I brought a new and vibrant energy to the organisation and provided a new perspective as a geography student – I study both the physical and human side of geography, so my combined understanding of natural and social aspects of environment/society assists in my role of understanding the scientific side of things, as well as educating and responding to the people-focussed side of this work.

What impact has volunteering had on you?

I am learning more about my subject’s influence and impact on the real world. This experience is therefore acting as an additional inflow of valuable experiences and knowledges, as well as promoting a cause very important and close to my heart. Learning myself whilst also educating others is, in my eyes, the most rewarding form of work.

What’s the best thing about volunteering?

Meeting people of a similar mindset, being given an introduction into the sector of energy and sustainability, and having some non-academic work to look forward to in your day-to-day workload.

Doing something for your own pleasure at the same time as educating and inspiring others is incredibly rewarding. 

And the most challenging? How did you overcome the challenges?

Balancing this volunteering job along my studies; it’s difficult to predict how much time one can allocate to volunteering, as it is a personal commitment with unique rewards. Figuring out how much work can be taken on alongside crucial studying time was challenging, however I have managed to find a perfect balance. Furthermore, the organisation is made up of lots of volunteers with other work/study commitments, so everyone is very supportive and understanding. 

Tell us about something memorable that’s happened to you whilst volunteering.

I have recently hosted a virtual pub quiz for the organisation; this experience was highly enjoyable and was also a fantastic way of engaging with other volunteers and supporters of the organisation in a more casual environment – the organisation is starting to feel like a family as well as a work place!

How has COVID-19 impacted your volunteering and how has it changed what you do?

It’s a shame that everything is virtual and I am unable to meet the incredible people I’m working with in person, however most of my roles for the organisation are online-based anyway, therefore I am still able to perform at the best of my ability.

Would you recommend volunteering? If so, why?

Volunteering is a great way to find out and explore a passion you may have for societal development, and assisting in the growth and spread of that subject. One’s ability to commit to a bigger cause with no financial reward but only personal is also a great show of selflessness and support which I see many employers valuing highly.  

If you want to find an opportunity that relates to your academic interests or your passions like Ania, check out all the available volunteering roles on our directory!