Virtual Volunteering

Written by Kate Morris, Careers Consultant

As a careers consultant at the University of York, I am speaking to a lot of students very worried about missing out on internships and work experience opportunities. I’ve read a few reports recently that a number of big graduate employers are offering online activities which is great, but they seem to be aimed at professional services firms which I know won’t necessarily appeal to everyone. So I embarked on a “finding-interesting-remote-work-experience-mission” and I’ve come up with the goods!

I have discovered a really interesting resource where students (and anyone!) can gain voluntary work related experience by contributing to research and development in a huge range of sectors. I came across it in a Museums Association article on digital volunteering but the site actually has opportunities across a huge range of sectors.

The website (called Zooniverse) is essentially a crowdsourcing platform where people can volunteer their time. This was originally developed for the science sector to help digitise databases about galaxies but opportunities I just found include transcribing prisoners’ records from Australian convicts to classifying baby sounds to help understand language development!

If you’re interested in volunteering more generally, our volunteering team have curated some virtual opportunities ranging from supporting the community during the health crisis to exotic animal conservation research.

Forage offer another, slightly different option in the form of work experience simulation. These are like training courses that you work your way through with tasters of the kind of work you would be doing in real life. You also get a completion certificate you can add to your LinkedIn and CV (bonus!). They don’t cover all sectors- it’s more corporate but there is actually a lot on there and a good range of experiences. As well as areas like Law and Consulting, they do have some more niche areas like Social Impact. There are also quite a few Tech options on there- this is something worth considering as I’ve recorded a couple of *podcast episodes recently with women who studied an Arts & Humanities degree at York and have gone on to build successful careers in the Tech sector. This is similar to many graduate jobs where you don’t have to have studied a particular career area in order to work in the industry. Participating in these kind of virtual experiences could be a “safe” way of testing out sectors you might have previously assumed you couldn’t get into or wouldn’t be interested in.

Of course as York students, you can also access the exclusive opportunities we offer through our Student Internship Bureau. This time of year we’re usually promoting a great range of internships in the local city, the University and local council and the team have been working hard to transform as many opportunities as possible into virtual internships (i.e. ones you can do working from home). There’s currently some really interesting research opportunities on there where you will be contributing to work that actually makes a difference in areas relating to the University itself as well as the wider community, including the NHS. And you get PAID!

For more advice on virtual resources, the latest covid-19 related updates from employers and support we’re providing, check out our special webpage on Careers issues during the Covid-19 crisis

(*The podcast episodes will be released in autumn term).