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Building your experience

Having experience outside of your academic studies will enable you to build your CV and expand your employability potential. This guide provides you with examples of how to build your experience through, volunteering, part time work and cultural activities.

The professionals and graduates interviewed in the Standing out videos were at pains to stress that experience outside of the academic world is often needed to hone key employability skills. One person suggested that travelling outside of your comfort zone in order to expand your world view is necessary. This enables you to develop confidence and gives you the opportunity to enhance your CV thus enabling you to stand out from the crowd.

Living in London provides you with endless possibilities to experience new things. With planning and some research there is much that can be achieved. This could be exploring beyond your neighbourhood, being familiar with some of the areas that have historical, commercial or cultural significance. These suggestions can be taken forward even if you have minimum amounts of time and a small budget. Have a thirst to explore and develop your view of the world and never again will you be at a loss for things to discuss at a networking event!


The possibilities for building your experience by volunteering are practically endless. It could be your way to get noticed by a national organisation, to build up your skills, to develop the contacts you make as referees or just to feel that you are giving something back to society.

Volunteering covers all sectors: sports, health and social care, law, environment, education, youth work. It is possible to work with national charities such as The Prince’s Trust, Childline and Cancer Research. Roles you can apply for are equally varied, ranging between advisors, marketing gurus, campaign leaders, counsellors and gym assistants and administrators. Some charities have their own TV channels and look for presenters, writers and technical support. Media is renowned for being difficult to get into without recent experience.

It could be that you wish to start a charity yourself, addressing a specific local need or addressing challenges in society that you have identified. The possibilities are all out there for you to grow your experience

National volunteer database

You can search this using your post code and the type of activity you would like to get involved with.

National Volunteer Database Website

UEL Employability and Enterprise Team

The team is in direct contact with organisations that are specifically seeking UEL students and graduates.

UEL Employability and Enterprise Team Website

Time Bank

Time Bank links people so that they can share their time and skills. One hour of your time earns you one time credit to spend on a skill or service on offer. It could be that you offer Spanish tuition in return for having a web site designed for you. The scheme is open to individuals as well as to organisations.

Timebank Website

Community Service Volunteers (CSV)

This organisation offers part-time and full-time volunteering opportunities across the UK. The website includes an interactive map of projects and contact details. It also provides accounts from volunteers giving a better idea of the diversity of activities available and what it is like to be involved. It also runs residential projects that enable people to consolidate their experiences over a period of time.

The projects CSV undertake are too numerous to mention here, but include the following examples:

  • CSV run programmes to place mentors with young people needing positive role models
  • the project run in conjunction with the BBC, Read Hear, offers a service for deaf and hard of hearing people
  • CSV supported volunteering enables people with disabilities actively to help others, while at the same time to develop their own self-confidence.

CSV Website

2012 Olympics-related volunteering

The recruitment period for 2012 volunteers has now closed. However there are still projects that you could get involved with in the lead-up to the London Games:


These schemes offer individuals the opportunity to do a work placement with the London Organising Committee for the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) in areas from sport to communications.

Trailblazers Website

Changing Places

These are neighbourhood related projects that encourage people to transform their local areas. You could apply for funding to run and manage a project or join one centrally-organised.

Changing Places Website

Creative programmers

Cultural projects in music and dance can be part of the 2012 Cultural Olympiad. It is possible for you to apply to run a programme or event. The Cultural Olympiad will culminate in a major festival in 2012 with performers from all over the world.

Cultural Olympiad Website

Exploring London and beyond

Free guided walks

There is a free guided walk with audio instructions that can be downloaded onto your MP3 player. The route changes every week.

Further information on free guided walks

London tube rambles

It is possible to explore country areas just outside of London by taking Underground trains to the end of the line and, if you enjoy walking, try one of the routes suggested in the link below.

London Tube Rambles Website

Theatres and live recordings

Going to the theatre, show, or live performance The National Theatre has £10.00 day tickets available for all shows. You have to be at the box office before it opens at 9:30, earlier if it is a popular show to ensure you get a seat. Other theatres operate a similar scheme. If you want to see a specific show and need to book, go for restricted view seats; they are very cheap and if the performance is not full they may move you into better ones.

TV and Radio show recordings The BBC always wants audiences for its TV and radio shows. It is possible to book tickets online to see a range of programmes from Brain of Britain to sit-coms to lectures given by eminent scientists. These events not only give you insights into the makings of a programme but may provide an opportunity to meet people from other walks of life.

Further information on BBC Recordings

Talks and lectures

Gresham College

This college is an independent institution, based in Holborn which for 400 years has been offering free lectures to members of the public to enable them to engage in intellectual debate.

Gresham College Website

The Ethical Society

Conway Hall in Red Lion Square has long been the home of free thinking in London. It is considered to be a landmark for London’s independent intellectual and cultural life. It offers a wide variety of lectures, classes and performances.

The Ethical Society website

Conway Hall events

The British Academy

The British Academy is a national centre for the humanities and social sciences and its evening lectures are free. The events mainly take place in their stunning building in central London.

The British Academy Website

Royal Academy of Arts

The Academy offers free lunchtime seminars and events hosted by eminent scholars in the field of visual arts.

Royal Academy of Arts Website

Wellcome Collection

The Wellcome Collection bills itself as being a visitor attraction for the ‘incredibly curious’. Its work ‘explores connections between medicine, life and art in the present, past and future’ and it has many free events and seminars.

Wellcome Collection Website

The British Library

The British Library on Euston Road has a range of workshops, exhibitions as well as a centre for entrepreneurs.

The British Library Website

UEL Visiting Lecturer Programme

UEL offers a guest lecture programme. In addition to this UEL schools offer their own specialist events.

UEL Visiting Lecturer Programme Website

Professional societies and associations

Take advantage of free lectures and seminars. See individual association websites for details.

UEL Chaplaincy

The chaplaincy offers a range of events for all students regardless of faith.

UEL Chaplaincy Website

Reith Lectures

Every year the BBC hosts the Reith Lecture. These were started in 1948 by the BBC’s first director general, Lord Reith. The lectures are given by leading public figures. Tickets are usually available by lottery. The speaker for the 2011 lecture is the sculptor, Antony Gormley OBE.

Reith Lectures Website

Museums and art galleries

Take advantage of London’s free museums and galleries. They often have special programmes for students.

Part-time work

There are specialist recruitment agencies in London from areas such as finance to health to retail.

Further information on London based recruitment agencies

Eating out

London offers a truly diverse range of restaurants and contrary to popular belief it need not be too expensive. Try the TopTable website for special deals and take advantage of special offers from Voucher Codes.