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How volunteering has developed my skills

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Chris Mason is a postgraduate student studying Cyber Security, he was also winner of Volunteering Honours at the SU Awards 2018. Here he shares how his volunteering experience has helped grow his skills and business prowess!

I started volunteering at Remus Memorial Horse Sanctuary about two months ago. Doing so has helped me to learn a wealth of knowledge plus put my technical skills to the test. It has given me that good feeling of giving back, knowing that I am helping create positive change. 

At the beginning of 2018 I started looking through the big list of volunteering opportunities on ARU Students' Union's website and whittled my choices down to the ones which really suited my interests. Once I had decided on these I filled out the online form in less than two minutes and waited to hear from the SU.

Within a few days I had heard back and had arranged a meeting with a member of the SU volunteering team who talked me through the support the Students’ Union can offer, both in getting involved with and during these opportunities.  

The next day I emailed Remus to introduce myself and explain how I’d heard about the opportunity. Within a week I was already heading to my first meeting to discuss what I could offer Remus and find out a bit more about what they were looking for in a voluntary IT Support provider. The meeting was a huge success and I walked away excited about the opportunity ahead.

Two weeks later I went along for a couple of hours to do a full site audit, where I was able to learn more about their systems and chat to the friendly staff.

What made me want to get involved?

I have spent the last ten years of my life working in various industries but IT is where I’ve wanted to work my whole life. A few years ago I completed my BSc Information Security and Forensic computing at ARU’s Cambridge campus. I am currently studying a Masters in Cyber Security right here in my home town of Chelmsford.

Volunteering has not only given me something to do in the quieter times of life, it has made a difference to the lives of the people and animals of Remus, taught me a great deal and ultimately helped give me the skills to start my own IT company.

Since the initial audit I have been back to Remus and really helped the charity develop its IT system into something much more user friendly!

Volunteering has taught me so many things, mostly business related, but it has also enabled me to work on perfecting my interpersonal and communication skills, management, planning, finance and a whole host of other skills.

I would recommend that everyone try volunteering as it really is worthwhile and not just for the feel-good factor. It can help you to make lifelong friends, create business contacts and improve your employability. They say that every day is a school day and let volunteering be a part of that. There are so many different ways and places you can volunteer, maybe you love animals but don’t know how to care for them. The answer is to volunteer. These opportunities will give you the time to teach you what you need to know. It truly is a fantastic way to spend your spare hours.

Find out more about volunteering through the Students' Union.

Find out more about Remus and the fantastic work they do.

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