Hey guys, Ellen here! I’m back with my latest Volunteer SU Blog & want to update you on my last few months as an Inspiring Leaders Intern! J It’s been a hectic few months, and we’ve had so many exciting events on at Volunteer SU! All the while, we’ve been working away at Inspiring Leaders, Handy Helpers and Homework Clubs every day. Let me tell you a bit more about the action-packed Semester 2 we’ve had here & some of my most notable moments in this role:
The SU Awards
WOW. Having never been to the Students’ Union Awards before, I was absolutely blown away by the achievements of students here at Queen’s. The SU Awards are held annually to recognise the outstanding achievements of students in their respective club or society, those who pour their hearts into volunteering, those fighting for equality & to those who are determined to make their club or society here, the best it can possibly be! It was so heart-warming to be in a room full of students who all work so hard for one common goal – to make other students experiences at Queen’s better!
The night was also packed full of entertainment from Queen’s Dance Society & Queen’s Music Society – well done guys! Also, a particular well done to Belfast Marrow who won Voluntary/Charitable Society of the Year & Paddy Elliot who was awarded Volunteer of the Year – some fantastic achievements & it’s incredibly encouraging for us here at Volunteer SU!
To top it all off – we had a 3 course meal from none other than Domino’s Pizza, complete with a mini tub of Ben & Jerry’s! What could possibly be better? A massive round of applause is in order for Alice Devlin, your SU Clubs & Societies Coordinator, for organising such an incredible event!
Semester 2 – Inspiring Leaders Update
Since my last blog, we have had a Women in Leadership Masterclass hosted by Allen & Overy, trained two more cohorts of student volunteers & we’ve seen all of our Inspiring Leaders complete their Degree Plus Presentation in front of a judging panel! It’s been incredibly busy to say the least & has absolutely flown!
It has also been so much fun getting to work with Roisin & Louise from the William J Clinton Leadership Institute! I’ve learned so much from them both.
Inspiring Leaders Graduation
I have to say, watching 135 of our Inspiring Leaders participants (now graduates) from the past academic year come together in one room for the first time to celebrate their achievements. It has been hands down my favourite moment in this job! An incredible group of students, with a range of passions and voluntary roles & it was an absolute pleasure to see them rewarded for their volunteering efforts! Massive congratulations to Bogdan and Mohammed, our Highly Commended and Inspiring Leaders Graduates of the Year.
We had a drinks reception upon arrival & a chance for our Inspiring Leaders to catch up! Your Student Activities Officer, Robert Murtagh, was kind enough to compere the evening for us, with inspirational speeches full of advice for our volunteers, from the NI Commissioner for Children & Young People, Koulla Yiasouma & partner at PwC, Lynne Rainey! What an exciting evening it was – not to mention the professional photographs which I’m sure are all over LinkedIn by now!
Cavaliers in Need Info Session – A Student-Led Society!
It wouldn’t be a Volunteer SU Blog if I didn’t update you on how your favourite puppies are doing! This semester we hosted a ‘Cavaliers in Need Info Session’ to raise the idea of a CIN student-led society here at Queen’s & the results were overwhelming! We had 100 students sign up to this event & had students fill in the necessary signatures to get a society started within minutes of the meeting ending!
I’m pleased to announce that this was successful & that a Cavaliers in Need Society here at Queens is official! This will raise money for and awareness of the charity’s work, rescuing dogs from harrowing situations such as puppy farms. To get involved, email email@example.com or send the society a message on Facebook! It’s been so lovely to see students so passionate & engaged in getting this society going!
(Photo - Accurate representation of me living my best life when the pups come to the SU)
That’s it from me guys! Just a quick note to say that my time as a Volunteer SU Intern is nearly over, it’s been an incredible journey & I have loved every minute of it! Applications open again in summer & I would strongly encourage you to keep an eye out for this amazing opportunity :)
Stepping into 2019 as a Volunteer SU Intern
Hey again! It’s been a while, so I thought I’d give you an update on all of the happenings in your Students’ Union since the turn of the New Year! It’s been a busy few weeks – but totally worth it! We here at Volunteer SU have been working away on our Homework Clubs, Inspiring Leaders and Handy Helpers initiatives, and it’s been great to see such an interest in what we’re doing – trust me, our inbox says it all! There’s also been lots more happening throughout the Students’ Union that I’m lucky to have been a part of. It’s really made my experience working in the SU an enjoyable one, so let me tell you more about it:
The Christmas Staff Party
Our busy 2018 ended with the SU’s Christmas Staff Party. Weeks prior to that, though, Jennie from Advice SU was doing the rounds taking names for Secret Santa. Although I was hesitant at first being a bit of a newbie, I ended up getting our very own SU President Connor Veighy – relieved that I knew him, I was not so relieved that I had the duty of buying a gift for the PRESIDENT. It was all good though! On our last day before the Christmas break, we all congregated in Club Room 5 to exchange gifts, before heading to The Speakeasy to eat, drink and be merry. It was a really good night and allowed me to get to know my colleagues more outside of work – here’s to the next one!
Semester 2 Begins! (Homework Clubs)
And then into 2019… It was all systems go once Semester 2 kicked off with January Development Weeks, but it was nice to get back after a long Christmas break. Homework Clubs recruitment was mega busy and we were delighted with the interest from students. After responding to emails, receiving applications, reviewing applications, booking rooms and facilitators, and preparing for induction training, we are very proud and excited to say that we recruited 163 new volunteers for Homework Clubs this academic year; 163 of you that will provide homework support to children and young people living in areas of educational underachievement - THANK YOU and good luck in your new clubs!
This has probably been one of my highlights since getting involved with the SU. I was lucky enough to be able to attend the launch of OMNI, a movement spearheaded by the Students’ Union. OMNI takes a new approach to addressing issues and concerns relating to student mental health at Queen’s. 78% of students worry about their mental health, and in order to understand this further, OMNI is asking you to complete a short survey. The results from this survey will help the Students’ Union to identify the priorities and create more targeted initiatives that will tackle the mental health head on. It was encouraging to see senior leaders at the launch of OMNI such as Vice-Chancellor Professor Ian Greer, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Education Professor David Jones, Mike Nesbitt MLA and Steven Agnew MLA – this only highlights the importance of this initiative. Take the survey. Join the movement.
In the run up to Valentine’s Day there was a whole lot of puppy love going around the Students’ Union as we had dog rescue charity, Cavaliers in Need NI in! This might be the ultimate perk of having a job in the SU. Getting to see the cutest puppers roaming around your workplace? Yass. When you’re bogged down with assignments and extracurricular activities, these doggos always brighten your day. If you would be interested with helping getting more dogs to safety by becoming involved in a Cavaliers in Need NI student-led society here at Queen’s, then get in touch with firstname.lastname@example.org so we can give you all the info!
The Low-Down on Being an Inspiring Leaders Intern
Hey! I’m Ellen Fearon, a final year Law & Politics student at Queen’s University, Belfast. Along with my studies and being Vice President of Enactus Belfast, I’ve also gotten the opportunity to work as a student intern in Volunteer SU this year! I started in September, and let me tell you it’s been a hectic and incredible few months! I have the role of being Volunteer SU’s Inspiring Leaders Intern. Inspiring Leaders is a programme for students volunteering in positions of leadership, supporting them to develop their leadership skills and rewarding them for their volunteering efforts.
You don’t often get to hear people saying that they love their job, but trust me, I love my job! As ridiculous as that sounds, I’m going to give you some insight into all the cool things I got to do this month that will explain why I love it:
Application reviews - students are amazing!
After reading over 150 of the applications for Inspiring Leaders, I was so blown away by how incredible some of the volunteering that students do in their communities and in Queen’s is! We have students running clubs and societies, going above and beyond in their roles as course and school reps, & volunteering in their local communities to improve the health and living standards of those around them! All of this while keeping up with uni work & maintaining a social life …… I think a round of applause is in order. In any other situation, I’m sure reading 150 applications might become a bit monotonous, but every person’s experience in volunteering was completely unique, and it was so clear how much this experience meant to people!
This is one of my favourite parts of the job. Getting to read about student’s passion for volunteering and leadership is so worthwhile! What’s even more amazing, is getting to be a part of the process of rewarding them for their efforts!
Dunadry Hotel Residential
One word: phenomenal. Despite helping to set up and welcome the leaders and students at this, I also got the opportunity to be one of the participants on the Inspiring Leaders November Residential. First off, it was really heart-warming to see all the other students enjoy the 2 days away at the Dunadry Hotel so much, after helping to organise it for the past few months. I know a few people who made friends for life through the programme which is a massive reason it’s always so successful!
On my part, I meet some amazing people and had so much fun finding out about my own personal leadership personality and bonding with people who are so similar to me in this way! It was also really cool to get to meet different leaders coming from business backgrounds, politics, community work, academics and student leaders too! I got some fantastic advice that I can use in everyday life & learnt what leadership is really about!
I also had some really nice food & drinks but that seems slightly less important… thankfully there were no hangovers!
I also get the opportunity to be involved in other initiatives within Volunteer SU…
Homework Club Co-ordinators Forum
This is hands down one of my favourite things that I’ve gotten to do in the last month. I was asked to sit in and take notes in a forum with all of the amazing people who co-ordinate the different Homework Clubs that Volunteer SU partner with. Just getting to sit in on this meeting, meant that I too got access to Volunteer Management training delivered by Volunteer Now which was really inspiring and helpful to me! I also got the opportunity to record some really positive feedback on the tutoring that our Homework Clubs volunteers do across Belfast.
Ps. Getting coffee & tray bakes from Café Krem doesn’t hurt at all.
Cavaliers in Need Cuddles!
Ok, so, honestly I wasn’t overly involved in this but I feel like any chance to play with dogs during your work day deserves a mention! I got to take some cute photos of the pups during the Cavaliers in Need Festive Cuddle Day… which got me in the festive spirit and took away all the stress from my uni work! Every day is different in Volunteer SU and small stuff like this really makes me appreciate that this is a really unique opportunity!
5 Reasons Why Being a Volunteer SU Intern is So Good!
Hey! I’m Ryan Lavelle, a second year Philosophy with Politics student here at Queen’s. I’m also a student intern in Volunteer SU where I get to help other Queen’s students find their perfect volunteering opportunity. I work specifically on the Homework Clubs initiative which allows students at Queen’s to help local children and young people build their study skills and confidence. What I like most about my role is promoting the value of service and volunteering throughout my own university whilst also helping fellow students develop themselves personally and professionally.
I’ve only been an intern in Volunteer SU for two months. Two months isn’t that long of a time, but I already feel like I have accomplished so much and have fitted into the team really well. From the office banter, to the unbelievable amount of emails, to the tea breaks, it’s all been good – and as I look at my (busy) calendar for the upcoming academic year, I’m excited for what’s ahead. Here are five reasons why I love being a student intern in Volunteer SU:
1. The new (temporary) Students’ Union building!
As some of you may know, the Students’ Union has temporarily moved from its old location, opposite the Lanyon Building to two locations nearby.
As much as I’d like to say that I spend my time in The (new) Speakeasy, myself and my Volunteer SU colleagues are situated in the office on the 2nd Floor of Students’ Union Elmwood. It’s pretty great, although it was daunting at first walking in as the newbie intern. After a week or two it felt like normal and everyone has been ace. We’ve also been doing Volunteer SU drop-in sessions since the start of the semester every Monday at 2-3pm, so if you’re reading this and you’re curious about what all we do here, pop in and we can have a chat – don’t be afraid of coming on in, if I can do it, you can too.
2. The pizza!
Anyone who has been to a Students’ Union event before might know that Domino’s pizza is the heart and soul of our lunchtimes. In October we had our Homework Clubs Induction Training an initiative I am particularly involved in) and aside from booking rooms, facilitators and so on, I knew ordering the pizzas would be the make or break decision. How much is too much? How little is too little? Do we need vegetarian pizzas? Vegan pizzas? In the end we ordered 42 pizzas. That’s a lot of students and guests to feed, but we did it and it worked a treat. Anyone interested in Homework Clubs can read about it here, or you can come to our drop-in session with any queries – we are recruiting for Homework Clubs volunteers again in the run up to Christmas, so keep an eye out for the application going live!
3. Meeting new people!
When you start a job with the Students’ Union, you better be prepared to meet loads of new people. One second you could be having a conversation with a senior figure within the University and the next you could be listening to questions from an enthusiastic, excited fresher. Since joining as an intern, I can’t begin to count how many people I’ve met – the rest of the Volunteer SU team, Enterprise SU, Marketing, the Student Officers, Homework Club Co-ordinators, representatives from Belfast City Council… the list goes on!
4. The merchandise and freebies!
Upon starting as an intern in Volunteer SU, Lucia – my new boss – gave me and fellow intern Ellen goodie bags full of Volunteer SU merch and freebies that have literally saved my life at times – shout out to the spaghetti measurer! If you saw us at Freshers’ Fair, you may have got a few freebies yourself. If not, I’m sure you’ll see our stall again at various events throughout the year….. with an abundance of pens, lanyards, note pads, highlighters, card holders, and, of course, spaghetti measurers!
5. Helping other students find their perfect volunteering opportunity!
At the heart of my job is helping Queen’s students to find their perfect volunteering opportunity, so that they can give back to the community whilst also developing their own personal skills. Although I am officially the Homework Clubs Intern, I feel valued in a whole team of people who work together in promoting different volunteering opportunities to students. I have volunteered myself previously in my local community as a Millennium Volunteer (and still try when I can), so I’m quite passionate about having and promoting a strong volunteering ethos. Being a student intern in Volunteer SU allows me to do just that, and it’s great! Volunteering can lead you to great places, allowing you to meet a whole bunch of people that may one day become your best pals - so why not try it this year?
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