Volunteering at NICVA
"Coming from a small rural border town which has experienced many years of neglect and decline has fostered within me a belief in the need for communities to take control of their own development and led me to get involved in many voluntary and community groups working in the area. When my work circumstances changed in 2011 I decided to return to study and undertake a degree which would allow me to pursue a full time career in this area.
While considering the options open to me to gain experience in this area a friend from university recommended applying to NICVA where he had previously volunteered. I recognised that this could be an invaluable opportunity to advance and develop the knowledge and skills I had gained while at university while also attaining professional experience within the sector in which I wanted to pursue a career. Considering that I wanted to get involved in an area which worked to positively impact communities and also that part of my degree was in economics I decided to apply to the Centre for Economic Empowerment (CEE) within NICVA. I promptly received a reply and was called in for an informal interview after which I was employed in a voluntary capacity.
From my very first day at CEE I was made feel part of the team and given a work schedule which was both interesting and challenging. The work I am involved in mainly consists of researching and analysing the possible impact of economic policy decisions and writing articles on these for the NICVA website. However, I also have had the opportunity to get involved in other aspects of NICVA’s work such as conferences, workshops and training which gave me the opportunity to listen and engage with a range of differing groups and individuals including community and voluntary representatives, Government Ministers, departmental personnel, and even the Shadow Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Ivan Lewis.
The very professional and proficient work carried out by the staff is reflected in the work they produce and sets a high standard to follow. This pursuit of high quality was also extended to the work I was involved in which was rigorously and critically assessed before publication. This has given invaluable weight to my CV as the high standards expected within NICVA are well recognised both within and beyond the community and voluntary sector.
One aspect of the role which, at times, I did find quite difficult was the fact that although the people I worked with were mostly younger than me they were all extremely professional and proficient in their roles and could achieve a productivity level which was beyond my capacity. I needed to constantly remind myself that although they were younger in age they had many years of experience in their roles and that I couldn’t expect to deliver the same level of work that they could, I needed to learn to walk before I could run.
I have thoroughly enjoyed my experience at NICVA and have found the work that I have been involved in extremely rewarding as I know that it will in some small way help to better inform communities about economic issues that affect them and increase their ability to take part more effectively in economic policy debates and influence their future development. I have met a lot of new people who have been very generous to me with their time and advice and have made me feel very welcome within the organisation. And last, but by no means least, I have been introduced to and enjoyed many new cakes and buns as every week there is a birthday to celebrate, so it is not only my CV which has gained in weight!"