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Volunteering at COCO – by Joe Smith

My name is Joe, a final year history student at Newcastle University. As part of the university’s final year Career Development Module, which encourages students to gain experience in a work environment, I volunteered at COCO from September 2016 to March 2017. I chose COCO as the range of tasks available was appealing for someone who was unsure over their future career plans and I was interested in contributing towards the charity.

My role at COCO began in project admin, ensuring that the case studies from the communities we work with in East Africa were updated. This is important as the charity’s supporters want to keep updated on how the charity is performing and what results are being achieved. I also worked on a project mapping the specific areas in East Africa where COCO operate and created posters for the annual winter ball.

I then moved onto working in social media, using hootsuite to manage the charity’s communications across Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Scheduling posts for the remainder of the year informs supporters of what the charity is up to and the ways they can get involved in fundraising events. Significantly, it also ensures that the charity has a consistent presence on social media.

Working at COCO has helped me a great deal. I have improved my communication skills by gaining confidence in my ability to effectively exchange information and ideas. COCO has also developed my team working skills and offered an opportunity to enhance my planning and organising skills.

Looking back on my time volunteering at COCO, it is something that I am very proud of. To have contributed towards such a well-run charity that genuinely makes a difference is rewarding. From the initial interview, everyone was so friendly and welcoming which made settling in very easy and this continued throughout the placement. It is an experience that I would definitely recommend for anyone who wants to gain valuable work experience and meet a great bunch of people.

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