Puzzle pieces saying 'work' and 'life' with pink, blue and yellow blobs in the background

Balancing uni volunteering with study

Whether you have a passion for writing, are keen to learn the salsa or want to live out your Quidditch fantasy, there’s a volunteer opportunity for you at the University of Newcastle. If you’re considering volunteering for a club, but not quite sure how to balance it with your other commitments, this is the article for you! 

Joining a club or society is a quintessential university experience and a fantastic opportunity to explore a new interest, gain job-ready experience and make new friends with like-minded people. The University of Newcastle Students’ Association (UNSA) supports a diverse range of clubs and societies, allowing members to access funding to run events and activities for their club.  

Ethan Andrews, a UNSA Clubs Officer, explains that joining a club has many advantages, including making new friends and learning practical skills that help students during their university experience and long after graduation. According to Ethan, “it’s important to get involved with a club as a volunteer because it’s a way to shape the university experience in your vision, it’s a pretty rare opportunity to bring your campus to life in a really meaningful way.”  

Photograph of two UNSA staff members at a stall, holding up a poster promoting the UNSA Instagram page

Hollie Hughes is a Communications and Law student that has taken full advantage of the benefits of volunteer work during her time at Uni Newcastle. Since commencing university study in 2018, she has volunteered with the UON Writers Club, Yak Media, The Women’s Collective and as President of the University of Newcastle Law Students’ Association (UNLSA). Hollie has found her recent leadership role in particular, to be an extremely rewarding experience. She shared with me that “joining clubs and societies at Uni Newcastle has done wonders for my confidence, organisational and leadership skills. I have also met some of my best friends through joining clubs and societies.” 

As a Content Writer for Yak Media, the student journalism club at Uni Newcastle, the benefits both Ethan and Hollie describe definitely resonate with my personal experiences too. As a Communications student, joining Yak Media has been an invaluable opportunity to have my work published, allowing me to learn editorial skills and create a portfolio of published articles before I graduate. Being a part of a club has not only been amazing for my academic life, but for my social life too, with funding from UNSA allowing us to run social events or ‘Yaktivites’. It’s been a highlight of my university experience so far and has been a fantastic way to meet other students with similar interests. 

As beneficial as my volunteering experience has been, it definitely comes with its challenges. Balancing your volunteering commitments, study and work can be overwhelming if you do not have the right habits and strategies in place. So, how do you engage with all the amazing benefits of volunteering whilst juggling study, work and social life? Hollie recommends planning your time throughout the semester, as well as taking advantage of digital and written planners to keep on track with your deadlines. Being realistic with your weekly workload is also essential to avoid burnout.  

Ethan at the UNSA Clubs Orientation stall

The most important thing to do to ensure you make the most of your volunteer experience is to stay organised! According to Hollie, “university study is busy enough without throwing volunteering into the mix so if you choose to do so, make sure you get familiar with a schedule to ensure you record all of your obligations down in one place”. 

The commitment for most clubs and societies is a few hours per month, but even if you’ve got less time than that, it’s still very worthwhile to get involved, and clubs are always glad to have volunteers! Although competing deadlines can be stressful, clubs and societies are run by students, for students, and are very understanding of how overwhelming studying can be, so they’re flexible around your study and work commitments.  

Volunteer work, like many valuable university experiences, can have its challenges. However, the benefits of becoming involved with a volunteering opportunity far outweigh its obstacles. So, what are you waiting for? Learn that salsa, write that article or catch that golden snitch, and get involved with a volunteer experience! If you want to browse all the clubs and societies available at Uni Newcastle, check out the list here

Leave a Reply