Third Force News reporter and former ProjectScotland volunteer Paul Cardwell caught up with nine other former volunteers to find out what taking part in the programme has done for them as the charity celebrates its 10th anniversary
1. Amy Drysdale
Then:Property assistant (2005) and garden and research assistant (2006) at Culross Palace, property assistant at Georgian House (2007) the National Trust for Scotland.
Now: Volunteer coordinator, National Trust for Scotland
About: Amy joined ProjectScotland right in the early stages and enjoyed her first placement so much she returned a further two times. Her volunteering experience went on to shape her career; she now manages the property volunteer positions that the trust offers, meeting the new generation of ProjectScotland volunteers!
She says: “ProjectScotland made such a difference to my life – it helped me get into postgraduate studies and then into employment in the heritage sector. I’ve benefited so much from volunteering so it’s great that I can now help other young people develop their skills and experience.”
2. Gunduz Ozturk
Then: ICT support volunteer at The Blackwood Foundation (2013)
Now: IT officer, Port of Leith Housing Association
About: Gunduz moved to Edinburgh from London. He completed an IT course but struggled to get any relevant experience in order to help him get a job. He worked for two years in the fast food industry and found himself losing confidence and becoming very demoralised. When he applied to volunteer ProjectScotland helped create a role to meet his needs. His volunteering opportunity led to a year’s paid work with the Blackwood Foundation, before he moved on to his current employer.
He says: “I was given projects which let me learn new skills and better my own knowledge. I always felt like I was contributing to the charity in a meaningful way.”
3. Laurie Clarke
Then: Admin assistant and fundraising development volunteer at Health in Mind (2014)
Now: Support services assistant, Open University and volunteering with Health in Mind
About: Laurie began volunteering to find out what kind of career she wanted to pursue. Her volunteering experience helped her secure a job with the Open University, but also fueled an interest for supporting charities and fundraising. Laurie is keen to develop her skills in the area, so she still volunteers with Health in Mind and participates in ProjectScotland events.
She says:“I certainly wouldn’t have gotten my job without ProjectScotland – and the best part is they found me a placement in a charity that I really believe in, and still give my time too.”
4. Katherine Sellar
Then: Festival assistant at the Edinburgh International Film Festival (2007)
Now: Community fundraiser, Health in Mind
About: Katherine volunteered during the summer between her 2nd and 3rd years of university. After university, Katherine found full-time employment, and having never forgotten her ProjectScotland placement she is now the line manager for ProjectScotland volunteers at Health in Mind. Katherine is also a ProjectScotland mentor, giving guidance and support to young people going through the programme.
She says: ”Being a Project Scotland volunteer at the Edinburgh International Film Festival was fantastic. It gave me great experience and helped me gain the skills required to get a job in the
5. Mike Elm
Then:Event coordinator at Scottish Wildlife Trust (2012)
Now: Project officer for the Scottish Forum on Natural Capital, Scottish Wildlife Trust
About: Mike graduated with a degree in Geography and International Relations. He decided to volunteer to gain experience and skills that he could then take into his career. His placement turned out to be the perfect match and three years on he can be found working for SWT full-time as Project Officer for the Scottish Forum on Natural Capital.
He says: “Getting into the conservation sector can be quite competitive. ProjectScotland got me a really valuable placement, which led to a great job in the field that I wanted.”
6. Connor Craig
Then: Office support volunteer at the Royal Voluntary Service (2014)
Now: Analyst, Morgan Stanley
About:Connor graduated with a degree in Maths from Glasgow University. His intention was to find a job in the financial sector and begin his career. Unfortunately, despite reaching the interview stage for a number of jobs, he was initially unsuccessful. He credits his current role with Morgan Stanley to the support of his ProjectScotland mentor.
He says: “My mentor always encouraged me to believe in myself and helped me look at volunteering more subjectively so I was more prepared to answer competency questions – it was the area I was told I needed to work on more, and this opportunity to practice and provide different answers gave me the edge I needed to get the job!”
7. Fiona MacLeod
Then:Business development volunteer at Yooz (2014)
Now:Office manager, Yooz
About:Fiona graduated with a degree in International Business and Language but struggled to get a foot on the career ladder due to a lack of appropriate experience. She wanted to use her degree in a practical way but wasn’t entirely sure what career that might entail. After volunteering with Yooz, Fiona she interviewed for their office manager vacancy. Fiona now helps line manager other ProjectScotland volunteers at Yooz.
She says:“Volunteering gave me the confidence to realise that I was on the right path, that this is the career I wanted.”
8. Andy Sloss
Then: Conservation volunteer at The Conservation Volunteers (2014)
Now: Operational trainer/assessor Forestry Commission
About: When Andy left school he found himself moving from one dissatisfying job to the next. He hated office work but struggled to find anyone who would give him experience working outdoors. When he applied to ProjectScotland he was really just looking for a foot in the door. Andy now works full time with the Forestry Commission helping train new apprentices and volunteers as a ProjectScotland mentor.
He says: “My placement with The Conservation Volunteers offered me the chance to find something I love doing, and opened up avenues I struggled to find before.”
9. Chris Mackrell
Then: IT volunteer at Midlothian Community Media Association (MCMA) (2006)
Now: Field systems specialist, BT and volunteering with MCMA
About: When Chris left school after fifth year he already had a place lined up at college to study technical theatre. He decided to volunteer to add to his skills and keep himself busy over the summer months. When he joined the radio station at MCMA he found himself enjoying the IT and troubleshooting tasks most. With some encouragement from his placement he applied for BT’s apprenticeship programme, and was ecstatic when he was successful.
He says: “The experience totally changed my career path. It reinforced a passion for volunteering also, and I continue to give my time and energy to similar projects.”
10. Paul Cardwell
Then: Reporter at Third Force News, Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (2008)
Now: Reporter at Third Force News, Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations
About: Paul graduated with a Journalism degree but struggled to get a job with no real experience. After his placement Paul has created a portfolio of work and was offered a role as a reporter at the Fife Free Press Group – working there for five years. In December 2013 he returned to Third Force News, this time as a full-time employee.
He said: “I was about to give up on my dream job of becoming a journalist when I got my ProjectScotland placement. I love that I have now returned here as a full-time, permanent member of staff. It feels like
I’ve gone full-circle.”