Volunteering and sharing your knowledge is a great way of giving back, developing skills and meeting people – albeit virtually at the moment! And for one of our AMBS PhD students, Andreea Avramescu, lockdown actually gave her the chance to get involved with a charity she’d been interested in helping for a while. She got in touch to share her experience – and if you’re inspired there’s more information on how you can get involved:
I am a relatively new volunteer with a not-for-profit called Code Your Future that provides free web-development coding courses to people from disadvantaged backgrounds. With many of the graduates gaining employment or access to further education, these courses have a real, tangible impact on people’s lives.
Although I’d been in touch with the CYF Manchester team for quite a while, I’d never actually had the time to join and help out with many sessions. But as the classes and study groups are now fully remote I actually found it easier to make the time and join some Zoom calls.
The volunteers manage to create a truly thriving and inclusive community and you certainly do not have to be a programmer to join the team. Being a good communicator and having a willingness to learn new things is really all you need. Volunteers are based within one of three teams – outreach, education and personal development. New volunteers go through a training that involves tasks from each of the teams – so you find out about each and see what you would like to get involved with.
- The Outreach volunteers build the Code Your Future community. They contact the volunteers, NGOs, and businesses to create partnerships. For example, businesses and NGOs might want to support the CYF work by offering students a job after graduation or encouraging their employees to join as volunteers. Anyone joining this team can get involved with things such as:
- Connecting with NGOs supporting disadvantaged people to reach adults who would be interested in our courses;
- Coordinating events which inspire and welcome new students and volunteers
- Building meaningful partnerships with the tech industry to assist with fundraising, recruitment, guest talks etc;
- Developing the social media strategy or creating resources (videos, photos and blogs);
2) The Education volunteers are the ones sharing their coding knowledge with the students and help them to become independent programmers. The most common tasks include:
- Planning and leading classes
- Supporting teaching by offering individual support to students during classes and with homework
- Supporting final projects. Here volunteers can take on the role of project manager/ scrum master and lead a team of students developing their final graduation project. This project becomes a key part of a student’s coding portfolio.
3) The Personal Development team make sure students can do their very best on the course. The volunteers run regular workshops to build students’ confidence and soft skills, ensuring they will be able to succeed in their chosen careers. Responsibilities include:
- Planning and delivering workshops aimed at getting students ready for their first jobs;
- Coaching and supporting a small group of students throughout the course;
- People with knowledge about the tech industry can also volunteer as personal mentors, helping a student to develop their CV, network and give the student insight into the tech sector.
And how have I found it? Simply put, it is a really fun way to spend your free time and also help change somebody’s life at the same time. It is a really great opportunity to develop your mentoring and teaching skills.If you’re interested in finding out more about the work of Code Your Future and its volunteers see Code your Future or take a look at other volunteering opportunities by taking a look at the University’s Volunteering website.