University: University of Wales, Bangor
Gap year: Community Service Volunteers (CSV)
During her gap year Jade worked at a mainstream secondary school in Ashford, Middlesex. She focused on a group of five year 11 pupils who were under-achieving for various reasons – for example, some had problems at home. Her job was to get their grades up. Jade found working with 15-year-olds challenging, but the experience was good and very rewarding, she says.
What motivated you to apply?
I’d just done a psychology degree and knew that I wanted to work with people. But I wanted to gain some experience before I got a "proper job". I happened to see an advert for CSV in a newspaper and I thought it sounded interesting.
How did you fund the year?
It’s a voluntary position, but CSV give you a small allowance. So you have a bit of money to live on, and the accommodation is provided.
What are you doing now?
I work at a residential school for autistic children. My role is supposed to be teaching assistant, but it is more like social care work.
What did you gain from the gap year?
I gained a lot of experience. I learnt how to work with people of different ages, and I made some really good friends. You also get to meet other CSV volunteers – it is really interesting to hear what they have been doing.
What was the best bit?
Working at the school I met some amazing young people. I made lots of new friends and gained some good experience. It is a worthwhile thing to do, not only for yourself, but for your employability generally. It is something good to put on your CV; you do get a lot out of it.
What was the worst bit?
Sometimes it was difficult to live on the money allocated, but you have to budget properly. At the end of the day it is a voluntary placement, so it can be more difficult than a proper job.