Volunteer Week is an annual celebration of the wonderful people who help make a difference across the UK. Here at The Women's Organisation, we're lucky to have TWO volunteers who contribute week in and week out to the work we do. Last week, we introduced you to Ann Marie from our Marketing team, if you didn't read it you can catch up here.
This week, we would like to introduce you to the wonderful Alex Kendrick, a Masters student from University of Liverpool. Alex has been with us for several months now working on an exciting project for The Women's Organisation's 21st Birthday. She has been out meeting and profiling some incredible and pioneering women across the city who have paved the way for change and equality in their own indomitable way.
And we think that Alex is pretty incredible herself - she has actually just been granted funding to begin a PhD! As it is National Volunteers Week, we wanted to take a moment to shine a light on the AMAZING Alex, her experience at The Women’s Organisation and what she thinks about volunteering.
What’s your full name, what area are you from and how old are you?
My name is Alex Kendrick, I am 22 and I am from Formby, Merseyside – but currently living in Liverpool city centre.
How did you end up working with The Women’s Organisation?
I had just finished my first term of my Masters degree and I had a little more free time to broaden my skills and try and get some experience in the workplace. I had been following The Women’s Organisation on social media for a while and knew that this was an exciting organisation to be involved with, and an organisation that holds values close to my own. I took the opportunity to make contact with The Women’s Organisation, and then had a chance to come in and chat to a few of the Media and Engagement team. This was really useful in both making sure I was right for a volunteer role and also helping me in getting to know a bit more about The Women’s Organisation and 54 St James Street. I was then offered a volunteer position and began my role at The Women’s Organisation the following week!
What were you doing prior to working here?
I started my volunteer role in February this year, prior to that I began my MA in Human Geography at the University of Liverpool in September - which runs for a full year. I graduated from my BA in Geography in summer 2016. I was also working in a coffee shop part time, which I am still doing now.
What did you hope to get out of volunteering with us?
I don’t think I came into The Women’s Organisation with a particular list of things that I wanted to achieve, and I think as a result of this the skills and experience I have gained has surpassed all my expectations. I suppose I wanted to further my skills outside of academia and look into more work based ways of applying my research interests, and also gain work based skills and contacts through this.
What have you learned while you were here? Have you developed any new skills?
I have learnt so much! I have been able to use and develop the skills I have gained through my academic life and really see how these can be utilized outside of university. I have been working on a project marking 21 years of The Women’s Organisation promoting women’s empowerment and economic development, which has involved interviewing influential women across the Liverpool City region. This has been brilliant both in terms of developing my interviewing and writing skills and also really learning how to network and form a rapport with different people.
What has been most interesting about working here?
I think just seeing first-hand the work that is being done across the city and specifically the work that The Women’s Organisation are doing. I had the pleasure of attending the launch of Future Boss Club a couple of months ago, an organisation for young female professionals in Liverpool which has been set up by a really talented group of women, quite a few of which are from The Women’s Organisation, and FBC seems set to be a really exciting new venture for young women in business in the city – I am looking forward to seeing it grow!
What will you take away from the experience?
I have learnt to always go for opportunities, it’s sometimes difficult to imagine whether a volunteering role will fit into your life, or that extra project you might be thinking of getting involved in, but I’ve learnt to just take the chance and go for it – throwing yourself into different projects is rewarding in so many ways.
Why do you think volunteering is important/useful?
Volunteering is important for personal development, and increasing understanding of what goes on outside your usual sphere. People skills, time management skills, and developing knowledge and interest beyond what you normally would are absolutely vital for future career prospects and also just general well-being.
What is your next step and future goals?
I have recently been granted funding from the Economic and Social Research Council for three years to complete my PhD at the University of Liverpool. That starts in October, so I am very much looking forward to finishing my Masters and embarking on my next project!
Do you think your career journey is any different as a result of your placement?
Definitely. Volunteering at The Women’s Organisation has given me clarity on what the next chapter of my life will be, and has also opened my mind to the options available to me over the next 5 or 10 years of my career - being surrounded by driven individuals has been extremely beneficial.
What advice would you give to other women considering looking for volunteer placements?
Go for it! Spend time researching an organisation that you are interested in working with and don’t be afraid to just send them a message or an email – you have nothing to lose by making contact with an organisation and seeing if it is the right place for you.
Is there anything else you want to say about volunteering or The Women's Organisation?
I would like to say a massive thank you to everyone I have worked with so far at The Women’s Organisation for making me feel so welcome in such an enjoyable working environment.
Thanks Alex for all your fabulous work! We are so happy to have you in our organisation.