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“Definitely volunteer.  It enriched my life while at UCL, introduced me to new friends … and greatly improved both my CV and my skillset.”

Luke Penketh studied Zoology at UCL, graduating in 2012. As a student, he helped to set up UCL Roots and Shoots, a volunteer environmental education programme created in cooperation with the Jane Goodall Institute. We recently spoke to Luke about his volunteering experiences and how they’ve influenced his career.

Where are you currently working?
I work as a conservation biologist.  I am studying the impacts of tourism on a whale shark population in the Philippines, and have just completed a period monitoring the resident populations of bottlenose dolphins and minke whales in the Moray Firth, Scotland.  I also work as a private tutor, teaching science and maths and maintain a science education and photography blogging website: www.lukepenkethphotography.co.uk

What useful skills and experiences did you gain as a volunteer when you were at UCL?
I gained a huge volume of skills in managing people, as I maintained and managed a group of volunteers.  This has proved essential in my career as a conservation biologist, where managing volunteers is often a crucial component of the role.  I also greatly improved my abilities in presenting ideas to groups of people, as well as building up my teaching capabilities.  Again, these skills have proved essential in conveying ideas within conservation, as well as teaching core conservation field skills to groups.

What would you say to UCL students considering whether or not to volunteer?
Definitely volunteer.  It enriched my life while at UCL, introduced me to new friends who have since provided great connections in my career, and greatly improved both my CV and my skillset.  As well as all this – IT WAS GREAT FUN! 

I set up my own volunteering project whilst at UCL, and the Volunteering Services Unit were incredibly helpful throughout this.  The process was easy, due to their help and support.  If you have an idea, go for it – talk to the VSU and they will help you make it happen.

Interested in volunteering? Here’s how you can get started.

Read more stories from our alumni