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How volunteering in Uganda helped me secure a graduate job

Posted on 11 November 2020

Hello! My name is Sophie and I graduated this year from the University of Birmingham with a first class law degree. Signing up to volunteer with Play Action International was one of the best decisions I made during my three years and I’m here to tell you why!

The Academic Year

It was in October 2018 that I showed interest in volunteering with Play Action International. I had the whole academic year to prepare for the expedition and raise the funds. This gave my weeks some structure, fitting fundraising and group meetings around my studies. It also provided something to look forward to the following summer.

The most significant change for me was my outlook on volunteering abroad. In all pre-expedition check ins, I found their approach to volunteering and clear values confronted my preconceptions. After finding out about the sustainable nature of their work, the in-depth assessments they undertake on the schools they work for and their clear views on the ‘white saviour’ complex and ‘voluntourism’, I had finally found a charity where ethical and sustainable volunteering was at the heart of the programme on offer.

My time in Uganda

I flew out to Uganda in July 2019, excited to meet my fellow volunteers. We were briefed on the task- turning a derelict empty playing field into a safe, fun and exciting space for the children of Nalinaibi Primary School. For two weeks, we spent the mornings following a structured plan to build the playground- digging, cementing, sanding and painting. In the afternoons, when the Ugandan sun was too strong to undertake manual labour, we helped the Creative Play leader run educational sessions for the children.

This opportunity enabled me to develop significant skills and to understand the important things in life. Although we faced many adverse conditions, from significant physical setbacks to a challenging living set-up, we came together as a team, built upon everyone’s strengths and kept the morale high. We hosted the Playground Open Day on time and celebrated life, creativity and education with the children, teachers and parents. It was a day I will never forget.

Post-project impacts

As well as gaining life-long friends and having a wealth of stories to tell to anyone I meet, the skills and experience I gained from the volunteering expedition made me much more employable. In both part-time and grad job interviews, I have been asked to give examples of a time where I have worked as a team, communicated with others, had to adapt, faced challenges and so on. Although I have gained other experience, both legal and non-legal, over the years, I always find it easiest to speak about my time in Uganda. Using Uganda as an example is great as my passion comes through and people always want to know more!

Aside from helping my job prospects, my fundraising involved many social media posts and I have since used these skills in other volunteering opportunities. My friend and I have set up a website, and a sister Instagram account, called The Period Talks where we aim to normalise the period conversation. I am also volunteering at a Cancer Support Centre and have taken over the management of their social media platforms. Learning how to promote a cause and raise awareness all stemmed from my fundraising efforts for Play Action International.

To summarise, your time in Uganda will be invaluable for so many reasons. Not only will you make a great impact on the community and the children’s ability to play, it will also greatly impact you as a person- both personally and professionally! I couldn’t recommend this adventure of a lifetime anymore! Most importantly, you will provide a lifetime of adventures for the children of Uganda!

Take action and find out how to join a volunteering adventure like Sophie.