Student story: The benefits of volunteering

jessJess Weeks got involved with QProjects earlier this year, as a Collections Project Leader at the Royal Academy of Arts. Jess wanted to gain some experience in the heritage sector and loved the idea of working for an independent charity – so applied for QProjects. Now that she’s finished her placement, we caught up with her to see how she got on…

What did you enjoy about your placement?

“The Royal Academy was a great place to be in general. One of my favourite tasks, however, was working on the opening of the Anthony Green exhibition. I had to transcribe one of his pieces of work and it was so nice knowing that my opinion was valued. On opening night I met the artist himself! The team were so lovely and really made me feel welcome; I was sad to leave, but I felt very lucky to have had the opportunity to do such a wonderful placement.”

Do you think that doing a QProject has helped your employability?

Benefits-of-volunteering1_(002)“Having the QProject on my CV is really going to help me with further applications. I have learned many transferable skills, had to deal with and overcome certain challenges within the role, and have also gained valuable experience within the sector. In interviews I will draw on my experiences at the RA to provide support for statements of character and experience. I have also made valuable connections within the sector. Networking is crucial and QProjects provides a great platform to start this process.”

What would you say to a student who was considering doing a QProject?

“I would wholly recommend it! It’s a fantastic way to meet people and make connections, as well as allowing you to learn crucial skills within a sector. Although it is unpaid, I feel that this looks better on your CV as it shows how dedicated you are and good at time-management! Do it sooner rather than later – don’t (like I did) wait until your third year to start looking for experience. These projects are a great way to start gaining experience and learn what you like and don’t like, so for me this project has allowed me to understand that I might be best suited in a more educational role rather than curatorial.”


Looking for work experience? QProjects Summer applications open now

  • Are you looking to gain some work experience this summer?
  • QProjects Summer places QMUL students in local charities completing challenging projects which are flexible around your other commitments.
  • Looking to build your CV? This is a great way to get some experience while giving back to your community.

Amrin Nahar applied for a QProject in 2016 and was appointed Digital Marketing and Comms Project Leader at St Joseph’s Hospice:

amrin“The reason why I got involved with QProjects was that I saw it to be a fantastic opportunity to enhance my work experience. I was able to apply for the role of Digital Marketing Assistant at St Joseph’s Hospice. My main responsibility was to aid the Head of Marketing and Communications to deliver a new intranet for the hospice. What I really enjoyed was being able to provide insight and suggestions to the team regarding the project. This made me feel incredibly involved in the team as well as allowed me to gain experience in working in an office environment. QProjects has helped me gain interviews for jobs as the skills I have acquired have been valuable and transferable for other roles. I believe that if students are looking to gain first hand work experience and enhance their employability prospects, QProjects is a fantastic opportunity to take advantage of. As many employers want to see that potential candidates have engaged in practical work experience.” 

Since her project, Amrin has carried on volunteering taking on extra responsibilities, as well as securing a permanent role here at QMUL whilst she completes her MA.

Applications for QProject Summer are open now until 1st June to all QMUL students.  For more information about the roles and how to apply, check out our application form here.

QConsult Community: where groups of QMUL students take on strategic projects in the charity sector.

Are you interested in working on a unique project that will not only change lives, but
enrich your career prospects?

Developed from QMUL’s award-winning QProject programme, QConsult Community is an excellent opportunity to develop key skills in a real-life setting. Successful candidates will consult on a project within a not-for-profit organisation in our local, East London community.27157443600_99340d162c_o

Working in groups of 3-5, students will be given the opportunity to work with professionals in the voluntary sector, acquiring the essential skills that employers are want to see. It’ll be up to you and your team to provide solutions to the needs of the charity you’re consulting on.

So, if you…

-Are looking to put your academic work into practice
-Would like professional training in project management and consultancy
-Are keen to maximise your work experience during your degree

… then QConsult Community could be exactly what you’re looking for. Students from all subjects and years of study are encouraged to apply. For more information, see our website.

QProjects: Meaningful work experience in the charity sector

The great American writer and philosopher Elbert Hubbard once said, ‘the best preparation for good work tomorrow is to do good work today’.

In this day and age it seems his statement remains just as apt; the headlines and the employers continually stress upon us the importance of being as ‘job ready’ and ‘employable’ as possible upon graduation. And they tell us a crucial part of this lies in getting some work experience under our belts before our University days are out.

Sensible, indeed, but perhaps easier said than done. It’s not like we’re short of things to fill our days; lectures, reading, societies, essays, sports, more reading, socialising. Possibly also a few shifts at the local Sainsbury’s to keep us out of the red.

But how the heck does one manage to undertake work experience on top of all of this?

Introducing QProjects; challenging, meaningful and time-efficient work experience placements in local and national charities.

At 8 hours per week over 3 months, QProjects are designed to fit snugly around your studies. You’ll bag yourself an impressive piece of professional experience to boast about on your CV and get that all important ‘employability’ factor, without having to sacrifice your grades or your social life.

Moreover, it’s the chance to break out of the QMUL bubble for a few hours a week and put your highly valuable skills and expertise into practice to help the local community. Now, future employers will be impressed by that, surely.

In the last academic year, we placed 51 students into 30 different charities (mostly in East London), including MIND, Cystic Fibrosis Trust and NSPCC. Past QProject leaders have led marketing campaigns for museums, run focus groups with NHS patients, secured thousands of pounds of funding for small charities through writing bids and planned and delivered arts festivals. And many more.

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Charity fundraising – more than just shaking a bucket

It might surprise you but there’s actually a lot more to charity fundraising than you may think, and the term describes a wide range of incredibly important roles in charitable organisations.

So what roles are available?

A typical fundraising team might be made up of the following:

Community fundraising – This team works with a range of individuals, groups and organisations in the community, encouraging them to raise funds in their local area. This could include schools, places of worship, small businesses and local groups. A Community Fundraiser builds networks and relationships to increase the profile of the charity, whilst raising vital funds.

Corporate fundraising – Corporate fundraisers work with large national and often international companies to raise large sums of money for their charity. This is often in the form of ‘charity of the year’ partnerships and, depending on the size of the charity, these pots of money can be anything from hundreds up to £1million+. These roles involve

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QProjects helped me find my calling

September 2014. The start of my final year as a French and Linguistics student at QMUL. After spending the first three years of my degree blissfully ignoring the fact that I’d eventually have to graduate and get a job, panic set in – I had no post-graduation career plans. Although I’d known for a while that the charity sector was where I wanted my career to lead, I hadn’t given it much thought beyond that.

And so after three years at QMUL, I finally made contact with the Careers Centre. A word of advice – make the most of the Careers Centre, they are there to help! They are amazing and if it wasn’t for them I probably wouldn’t have a job right now. The first step was to update my CV which I had been neglecting for years. After drafting my standard CV, the Careers Centre checked through it to make sure it was up to scratch. Invaluable help. If you’re anything like me and find writing CVs painful, every time you do something that would look good on your CV, update it.

To help boost my CV, the Careers Centre recommended I take part in QProjects – a work experience scheme giving QMUL students and graduates the opportunity to work with a charitable organization. You can find out about new QProjects placements by signing up to receive email alerts. Do it now, it takes seconds.

My first thought was how will I have time to work and study? Final year is going to be stressful enough…can I really find the time to work at the same time? But that’s one of the great things about QProjects – the hours are flexible and placements are designed to fit in with your uni timetable. Perfect.

At first, I was worried I wouldn’t find anything to apply for. But a few weeks later I received an email about a QProjects placement with the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust (HMDT) – the charity that supports and promotes Holocaust Memorial Day (HMD) in the UK.


Holocaust Memorial Day (27 January) is a day for everyone to remember the millions murdered in the Holocaust under Nazi Persecution and in Genocides in Rwanda, Bosnia, Cambodia and Darfur. On HMD we also honour the survivors of these atrocities and challenge hatred and discrimination in society today. This placement seemed like a good fit for me. Since studying the German Occupation of France in A Level French, I’d had a keen interest in learning more about the Holocaust. I had seen the televised HMD event on the BBC earlier in the year, which was organised by HMDT, and I thought it would be an amazing opportunity to work with the team that had put on such a moving and successful commemorative event.

Aside from this interest, what really appealed to me about the placement was that the successful candidate would be working in all three teams at HMDT – Communications, Operations and Outreach – allowing the candidate to maximise experience and give them the potential to get as much as possible out of the placement.

After successfully being shortlisted for interview I was really impressed with the support provided by the Careers Centre at QMUL. I was offered a practice interview, and was sent lots of documents about how to prepare for job interviews, for which I was very grateful, having not had a formal interview before. Shortly after my interview, I received constructive and valuable interview feedback from Lindsey at QProjects who was sat on the interview panel along with two staff members from HMDT.

It’s impossible to tell how interviews go. But I was thrilled when I got the call to say I’d been offered the placement which would be shared with a fellow QMUL final year student. QProjects placements are designed to prepare students for the working world. It is excellent practice for writing job applications, tailoring your CV (very important!) and preparing for interviews – invaluable experience.

Right from the start of the placement at HMDT I was impressed with how organised it was. I was invited to an induction day in April (2 months before the placement was due to begin) where I was shown a work plan. It was inspiring and varied with lots of opportunities to develop a wide range of skills – perfect for someone who wasn’t sure what kind of job they wanted to do. Working at HMDT reinforced my desire to work in the charity sector and helped me gain experience in an office environment and develop a number of useful skills.


The staff at HMDT were very welcoming and it didn’t take long before I felt like one of the team. I was given a wide variety of tasks ranging from writing social media content to researching and writing educational resources, which are being used as part of the HMD 2016 campaign – a fantastic opportunity.

About a month into the placement, HMDT started recruiting for a Team Assistant to provide admin support to the staff team. I had enjoyed my time as volunteer at QProjects and over such a short period of time I had a gained and developed a variety of skills, some of which featured on the person specification for the Team Assistant role…handy eh?! I didn’t want to leave HMDT, I really believed in their work and the HMD 2016 campaign. There was nothing to lose. So I just applied.

Eventually, my application was shortlisted and after walking out of the interview thinking I had completely messed it up, I was delighted when I received a call a few days later offering me the job. I’ve now been working full time at HMDT for over 3 months and I’ve enjoyed every aspect of it. My main responsibilities include answering the phone, managing the enquiries email inbox, and for the next few months preparing for HMD 2016. Some may question how it can take a whole year to prepare for this one day of commemoration but the work that goes into it from the whole staff team is unbelievable. I’m so glad to be part of the team that is supporting and promoting HMD.

The theme for HMD 2016 is Don’t Stand By and with the issue of how to respond to those fleeing persecution at the forefront of our minds, it is inspiring to learn more about and remember those who didn’t stand by and took action to help those in need. Don’t Stand By encourages us to consider our individual responsibilities not to be bystanders to hate crime and prejudice, nor to international threats of genocide.

I am really very grateful for the help, support and opportunity I got from QProjects and I encourage all QMUL students to take part and become a Project Leader. If your experience is anything like mine was, you won’t regret it.


Opportunity Knocks! QInterns, QProjects & QTemps



School of Hard Knocks (SOHK) is a ground breaking charity that uses sport and other challenging activities to teach life-changing values and lessons. These enable participants to take positive and definite steps towards employment or further education. Their courses also powerfully address issues of physical and emotional health, anti-social behaviour, crime and citizenship.

SOHK is looking to recruit an enthusiastic Graphic Design Lead to work alongside the marketing team to create content for publicity and communications, both for specific projects and on an ad-hoc basis.

Bow Food Bank is offering a unique and exciting opportunity for two Queen Mary students to join the team and review its strategic operations. You’ll research other Food Bank models nationally, review current operations, talk to the various volunteers and students involved and get input from the Management Committee, all with a view to developing a model of best practice and publishing this into a step-by-step guide by which the Food Bank can operate. This is a challenging and rewarding role in a rapidly-growing charity. To succeed in this role, you’ll be a self-starter, a strategic thinker and committed to the Food Bank’s aims to support vulnerable local people.


Recruitment is open for an IT Service Desk Analyst working at a genetics company near Barbican. Pay is £14.00 per hour lasting approximately 3 months with the possibility of going permanent. The role is full time and is preferable to Queen Mary Graduates.

This is a position that requires a broad understanding of IT Hardware and Software but more importantly is a willingness to learn. The post holder must be an effective self-starter able to work on own initiative to tight deadlines.


Project Assistant, Spark the Difference

Spark the Difference is a new programme to help people feel better about healthcare. We are looking to recruit an Intern to deliver a small scale project in our ‘Inspire’ and/or ‘Support’ programmes, reporting directly to the Company Director.

The placement will run for 3 months – 1 – 2 days a week – starting in November. Pay is £9.15 per hour.