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“Volunteering was definitely one of the most satisfying parts of my university experience.”

Jonathan King studied two degrees at UCL - Biology and then Medicine. He graduated from UCL in 2011. As a student volunteer, he organised the Step Up programme within two Camden primary schools. He is currently working at St. Mary’s hospital in Paddington as a core medical trainee.

Tell us a bit about your current job
My role changes a bit day on day depending on whether I’m on call or doing my day job. When on call I’ll either be at the hospital looking after ward patients out of hours or in A&E admitting and looking after sick patients who have just arrived to hospital.

When doing my day job, I am on a ward with a regular team of doctors and nurses looking after a specific number of patients in a certain specialty.

What volunteering were you involved with whilst you were at UCL?
Whilst at UCL I organised a teaching program through the Volunteering Services Unit. The teaching program took place over the course of two weeks in two local primary schools. We taught a number of physical and educational activities in order to encourage the children to be active, encourage mixing between the schools and promote the idea of higher education by showcasing what is available to students at university. The activities we covered were cricket, soft ball, dancing, fencing, martial arts and first aid.

What useful skills and experiences did you gain as a volunteer when you were at UCL?
As the person who came up with the idea and took charge of the project, I learnt a number of vital skills which I still utilise in my job today. We had to negotiate with the schools to incorporate this program within the curriculum. I had to recruit a number of members and create a committee as well as recruit appropriate people to perform the teaching session.

Once these tasks were complete, time plans for each aim were put in place and these had to be abided by to make sure we were prepared and able to deliver a high quality teaching program. This required good and clear communication with my group of teachers as well as learning how to delegate tasks to the committee and provide constructive feedback to teachers whenever I felt improvements could be made to teaching plans.

How has volunteering helped you in your career so far?
Two key skills came out of the project for me. Firstly, learning how to plan well for an event. Secondly, good communication and negotiation skills. Both of these skills I use on a daily basis at work on the wards. I have to plan and prioritise my work and be able to delegate work to my colleagues as well as negotiate a number of things both with colleagues and patients in order to provide the best care possible.

What would you say to UCL students considering whether or not to volunteer?
Volunteering was definitely one of the most satisfying parts of my university experience. The social aspect with other volunteers made the weeks of preparation really enjoyable and the satisfaction of providing a high quality product at the end of it all was genuinely amazing.

I honestly was a sceptic when it came to people who volunteer at university and why they would do it, often thinking it was merely to satisfy a CV need or come across as altruistic. As it turns out, it’s because volunteering is fun, sociable and really satisfying - more so than any other society I joined during my 8 years at UCL.

Jonathan King
Me and my peloton plus support crew on our way to cycling from London to Barcelona for charity,
Jonathan King
Me and a friend at the picket line for one of the recent days of industrial action.

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