Volunteers' Week 2018 - Tuuli's Story

05th June 2018

I started my placement at Befriend a Child in October 2017 as part of my third-year Management course in RGU. Despite living in Aberdeen for a little over two years by the time, I had never worked in English before and had no previous experience of an office environment. When thinking of my future career options, I had momentarily acknowledged that working in the third sector could be an option, but the closest volunteering experience I had had so far was being a regular blood donor back home in Finland.

It is fair to say that I was extremely nervous by the time of starting my placement, but being the kind of person you can throw in to the deep end of the pool and who still manages to swim, I decided very early in the process to be open-minded and embrace every opportunity I would be given to challenge and develop myself. By the end of my first week at work, thanks to the welcoming and encouraging atmosphere, I can still remember how all the nervousness was replaced by excitement as I was so looking forward to coming back!

During my placement, which was first transformed from a 3-month placement into a 6-month one and then eventually into a summer internship, I have learned to maintain and create content to social media, taken over the existing volunteer and supporter newsletters, created an internal newsletter from scratch, learned to make press releases, pulled together our ball programme in cooperation with creative and printing, recruited my very own collection can placement volunteers and most recently walked the 26-mile Kiltwalk to do my part of community fundraising. I have also been coached to deliver an elevator speech and attend to external meetings and events by myself. Instead of doing the required 150 hours for my course during the spring, I ended up spending around 450 hours at Befriend a Child and would not change a day!

Throughout my time with the charity, I have been supported by amazing colleagues and an experienced line manager who has always been willing to push me further, believing in me at the moments I have doubted myself and always looked for new challenges to give me; most recently I have been offered a chance to get help with my thesis as I now seriously plan a career leading to a position at the charitable sector. At times, I have grown so fast in so many levels that I have been amazed by myself, not really knowing how to reflect all the development and the new Tuuli built because of it. 

By sharing my story, I want to highlight that the invaluable work that Befriend a Child does is delivered by a truly wonderful staff team who every day inspires me to give my best to help more children in need. I often describe the charity as ‘my UK family’ which well captures how meaningful this experience has been to me and how it has shaped my whole future by defining a clear direction what I want to do with my life. I’m happy to say that would not rather spend my first summer abroad anywhere else than working as a Marketing and Communications Coordinator at Befriend a Child!