Jacinta Kent

NSPCC

Please tell us more about the graduate programmes and opportunities you offer.

We offer the opportunity for students to volunteer with ChildLine and gain experience which can support both their academic and personal lives. We have a variety of different roles for volunteers to choose from, such as: Helpline Counsellor, Switchboarder, Outreach worker and Fundraiser. No academic qualifications or experience are required and full training will be provided free of charge. To find out more about getting involved, please call 0870 336 2940 for an information pack.

What advice would you give to students thinking about choosing a career in your field?

Practical volunteering experience can be incredibly beneficial to anyone thinking of entering the third sector. If you apply for a job within the organisation you volunteer with, your experience will put you in good stead as you'll have a working knowledge of the organisation and experience of operating within that environment. It by no means guarantees you a job but it is definitely positively looked upon. If applying for a job external to your volunteer placement, it can show prospective employers that you are committed, passionate and willing to learn - excellent qualities for any employee to have.

In the current challenging global financial climate, how important is it for students to leave university with more than just qualifications?

I believe it is crucial. At ChildLine, we don't look for people with academic qualifications; we are more interested in recruiting people who are open, honest and committed to supporting children and young people. Students who have donated their time to charitable, non governmental and community-based causes show us that they are committed to supporting others and therefore will potentially fare well within our organisation. However, previous experience is not essential as we tend to focus on the individual's thoughts, feelings and beliefs rather than academic qualifications or experience.

What are the key skills and attributes you look for when recruiting to your organisation?

Some of the qualities we look for in a volunteer include: warmth, being a good listener, being non judgemental, openness, honesty, commitment, and an enthusiasm for supporting children and young people.

What opportunities do you offer graduates in terms of further training / progression?

We offer ongoing training in all roles and opportunity for personal development within the team. Training may be issue-based or regarding the development of the helpline.

What advice would you give to our students in preparing themselves for their future?

Gain as much experience as you can in order to identify which area(s) you feel passionate about. If you are passionate about something it will provide you with the motivation needed to continue working within that field, even when times are challenging, as life sometimes is.

Be committed. If you're going to volunteer, it is a two-way experience that both parties benefit from. Without commitment and reliability, organisations can't plan their work and your absence can massively affect their operations. If you can't come in, please give as much notice as you can!

Get informed. Know what you're talking about. Without knowledge, we can't be sure that we're taking the right course of action. However, just as importantly, knowledge is nothing without action. No matter how big or small, our (in)action dictates our future. Revolutions, acts of kindness and communities are not pre-made, pre-packaged deals. They can't be bought, exchanged or bartered for. Like all the greatest things in life, they are made. And it is up to us to make them.