Volunteer of the Month

We are honoured to have hundreds of amazing volunteers who generously share their time, skills and experience to help and progress current students.

To better identify the impact our volunteers make, we have launched a Volunteer of the Month scheme to recognise those passionate individuals who go the extra mile.

January 2018 - Jonathan Wong

Jan-2018-VotMWhat is your current job title?
Project Director at the Center for Entrepreneurship at The Chinese University of Hong Kong.

For how long have you volunteered?
I have volunteered for the University since 2014, but have volunteered for different programmes and organisations related to young people outside Birmingham since 2010.

In what capacity have you volunteered?
I volunteered to kick-start the University's mentoring programme in Hong Kong. Away from Birmingham, I have been helping various NGO and charity organisations on different programmes, like training young people at Roads (https://www.facebook.com/roadshkYBTMAL/); acting as a mentor and Programme Director for Google Empowering Young Entrepreneur Programme (http://www.eyeprogram.org/); advising V54 (https://www.facebook.com/V54.HK/) a media and art hub for young people; acting as advisor for Young Entrepreneurship Foundation, (https://www.facebook.com/YEFHK/), an incubation programme for young entrepreneurs; and mentoring for Eureka Nova, an incubation programme for start-ups.

Why do you volunteer?
Volunteering is a very rewarding experience. Not only I can fully utilise my knowledge and business experience and network to help young people, it also helps me to know more about the startup scene and their business and expand my horizons.

What is the best thing about volunteering?
Meeting more exciting and interesting people from all walks of life, which in turn makes my life more interesting, fulfilling and meaningful.

What advice would you give to someone thinking about volunteering?
I would advise anyone who is thinking about volunteering to ask himself/herself what they would like to achieve from it. Without thinking clearly about the objectives and preparing yourself in advance, you may be wondering why do it, what you can contribute, how much time you are prepared to invest, etc along the way, especially if it does not turn out as good as you expected, or you have some problems during volunteering.

What's your Twitter handle?

December 2017 - Joe Comiskey

Dec-2017-VotM-1What is your current job title?
Head of Digital for Northern Europe at Beiersdorf.

For how long have you volunteered?
The last six years.

In what capacity have you volunteered?
I supported at the Mock Assessment Centres and as a guest lecturer during my time at Unilever and now at Beiersdorf.

Why do you volunteer?
As an alumnus of the University, I have always felt a lot of gratitude for the opportunities studying there unlocked for me. This is my way of giving back to the university. I love taking part in the events as the students are so enthusiastic and the business school so welcoming.

What is the best thing about volunteering?
Feeling like I’ve made a difference, especially when I get positive feedback from the students.

What advice would you give to someone thinking about volunteering?
Do it. The commitment required is actually pretty minimal yet hugely rewarding. I always come away from the mock assessment centres feeling like I have learnt something new too and from a commercial perspective, it gives a head start on finding talented students who could apply to Beiersdorf.

What's your Twitter handle?

November 2017 - Chris Meah

Nov-2017-VotMWhat is your current job?
I am CEO at the School of Code.

How long have you volunteered for?
I've volunteered for the University since 2013, starting with helping at Birmingham's ThinkTank museum, offering science outreach sessions for children.

In what capacity have you volunteered?
While I was studying I helped start the PhD Careers Day, which linked companies to PhD students in an attempt to help people who were worried about life outside of academia. We had more than 800 attendees at the two events we ran, and it was great to see so many students get jobs and opportunities through it. Since then, I've been involved in lots of different activities, and after finishing my PhD I've been happy to come in and give a talk, run workshops, and help students gain industry relevant skills that will help them in their career. 

Why do you volunteer?
I enjoy helping people, and I enjoy supporting people trying to improve themselves or their skills. Since my background is Computer Science, I concentrate my efforts there mostly. There is also a huge amount of money, jobs, and opportunity in technology but that isn't reaching everyone. The reason for programmes like our Homeless Coding Class and the School of Code Bootcamp is to try and help more and different types of people benefit from technology.

What is the best thing about volunteering?
Everybody has had help to get where they are at some point, so it's nice to feel like you can do that for someone else too.

What advice would you give to someone thinking about volunteering?
Start small, try lots of different activities and you'll find what you are good at and enjoy.

Do you have a Twitter account?
@theSchoolofCode and @theMeahCat

October 2017 - EPS Class Ambassadors

Oct-2017-VotMThese 17 wonderful young alumni all volunteered for the College of Engineering and Physical Sciences at Open Day on Saturday 14 October. All graduated within the last two years and are Class Ambassadors for the EPS Community.

They are wonderful advocates for the University and remain incredibly enthusiastic about their time at Birmingham. Amongst them they did some incredible things as students and have gone on to exciting new jobs.

They spent the day sharing stories and advice to prospective students to the University and inspiring our visitors to follow in their footsteps.

Many thanks to: Grace Hayward, Max Cameron-Jones, Will Davies, Alex Rees, Chloe Connolly, Carly Thomas, Becky Drew, Sarah Jones, Tsani Sakutov, Ahmad Khattab, Saskia Binks, Daisy Partlow, Nathanial Hutchinson, Joseph Carter, Hazel Cox, Tom Loveland, and Philippa Jefferies. Some of the group are pictured above at the Open Day.

September 2017 - Will Hazelton

Sept 2017 VotMWhat is your current job?
I am Account Manager at Spark44 BHX.

Why do you volunteer?
I didn’t consciously realise I was volunteering. All I knew was that it is vital to give opportunities to students, as they’re brimming with fresh thinking and new ideas. This is critical, not just for the creative industry, but businesses all over the world.

In what capacity do you volunteer?
I lead a team who developed a robust internship programme, partnered with two key universities and recruited six fantastic students for two weeks. I then coached and mentored them throughout their placement with us here at Spark44. Although I didn’t realise I was consciously doing so, the time I volunteered was incredibly stimulating and hugely rewarding to me and the students involved in the programme.

What is the best thing about volunteering?
Developing relationships and watching people benefit from your experience. It’s hugely rewarding to impart your knowledge and see other people breathe and interpret it to benefit them in their own way.

What advice would you give to someone thinking about volunteering?
Don't think about it as a timescale, i.e. I need to donate x hours per week. Think about it as a project - what do you want to achieve? What do you want to learn? This way it becomes an experience, not a chore.

August 2017 - Keith Harding

Aug 2017 VotMWhat is your current job?
I am retired.

How long have you volunteered for the University, and in what capacity?
I have served as editor of Aesculapius, the Medical and Dental Graduates’ publication, for seven years. I volunteered as a member of the editorial board and of the Sands Cox charity Exec committee.

Why do you volunteer?
I volunteered because no-one else did (!) but I enjoy it very much. It keeps my retired brain active and is a contribution to the Medical School.

What is the best thing about volunteering?
Aesculapius provides a forum for Medical and Dental graduates to tell others about their interests and allows student holders of Sands Cox bursaries to publish their elective, to present it and be questioned by a multi-disciplinary audience, which I think is wonderful experience for them. I might add that the standard is very high.