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A catch-up with former volunteer Nina to discover how her volunteering experience led to employment.

Bryson Charitable Group is a coordinating organisation in Northern Ireland where we support a number of European Solidarity Corps volunteers and hosting organisations.  We recently caught up with former volunteer, Nina, who is now living and working in Scotland.  We asked her to reflect on her volunteering placement and its impact.

Tell us about your placement!

I did my 12-month European Volunteering placement in the Ulster Wildlife Living Landscapes team between 2017 and 2018. In my role, I was involved with the organisations' three terrestrial conservation projects, with a focus on looking after a project conserving Barn Owls. I was very lucky to be given a lot of responsibility and ability to take part in training and other events across the organisation, which gave me a huge boost in both experience and understanding of how things work in the field.

Why did you apply for this project?

I had graduated from my master's degree the year prior and while I was volunteering back home in Finland, I was struggling to get my foot through the door to get paid work in the industry. While browsing for jobs, I came across the advertisement for this position and it sparked my interest. Not only did the role provide me with an excellent platform to gain work experience (while supported financially) in a great organisation, it also involved the type of work I wanted to get into and species I was already passionate about.

Girl holding a tiny owl

What did you do after your European Volunteering placement?

I was very lucky to gain employment in Scotland in the Scottish Wildlife Trust on a Red Squirrel conservation project very much like the one I worked with in Belfast. I started less than a week after I finished my placement at Ulster Wildlife! I have since moved on to work with birds of prey (also in Scotland), so I have taken full advantage of the experience I gained in Northern Ireland.

Did your placement help you to find a job?

Most definitely! I'm 100% sure my experience in Ulster Wildlife was an excellent stepping stone to the employment I eventually moved into after my volunteering placement. Apart from experience and boost for my CV, the network of people I worked with as part of my role have also proven very useful since.

Reflecting on your experience, what impact do you think it has had on you?

Apart from the obvious mentioned above, I think one of the most important aspects of my volunteering time, career-wise, was the confidence I gained. Looking back, I remember arriving at the organisation feeling like a deer in the headlights, but at the end walking out with the understanding that I can do this thing! Apart from the role itself, I made life-long friends during my time in Belfast, who I am still in regular contact with and fell in love with the Northern Irish people overall, who are the most warm and funny people I have ever met!

What’s your best memory of your European Volunteering time?

It's impossible to pick just one as I very much cherish the whole year I spent there, but one of the most unique moments certainly was an impromptu trip from Belfast to the Giant's Causeway at night to see the Northern Lights!

Youth story by Bryson Charitable Group, Eurodesk UK Partner.


If European Volunteering sounds like something you'd like to explore, why not sign up to the European Solidarity Corps to see what opportunities are available!