5-minute briefing: Volunteers

Jun 4, 2018

Inspiration from experience and enthusiasm

 Elena Laguna - Volunteer Manager

Volunteer Manager, Elena Laguna, tells us how industry professionals inspire young people into STEM careers with their experience and enthusiasm.

How do volunteers help with what EngineeringUK’s work/what do they do?

Essentially, our volunteers support us in achieving our organisational goals of inspiring young people into the world of STEM by providing opportunities for them to connect directly STEM students and professionals of the 21st century. Our volunteers support EngineeringUK’s work in many ways, from judging student projects, and offering careers support to delivering hands-on activities that capture our future minds imagination and interest in the STEM subjects. Our volunteers also judge the Big Bang Online Competition and support the Big Bang Near Me Fairs and the EEP Robotics Challenge regional events.


Why are volunteers important to EngineeringUK?

Our volunteers are massively important to EngineeringUK and the young people we support as they act as shining examples of STEM specialists in the market today igniting passion and inspiration in the young minds of the UK. Playing a vital role in the delivery of our programmes, our STEM students and professionals from diverse backgrounds and at various stages of their careers, volunteer at our regional and national events making a significant impact to our young people and how they perceive engineering and science. According to a report from STEM Learning, 93% of teachers said pupils had increased knowledge and understanding of STEM subjects after working with a STEM ambassador. For EngineeringUK, this means that some of our career-focused activities such as “Meet the Future You” couldn’t be delivered without the wonderful support of the hundreds of volunteers.


How many volunteers do we work with on an annual basis?

In total, we have over 900 volunteers participating at our events including the Tomorrow's Engineers EEP Robotics Challenge, The Big Bang Competition, the Online Competition and The Big Bang Fairs, both national and regional events. While numbers are important, what we really look for in our volunteers is a passion for STEM so they can pass on this inspiration to the next generation of the UK’s engineers and scientists.


Who are the volunteers/what are their backgrounds?

Our volunteers come from all types of backgrounds who share a collective enthusiasm and are committed to supporting EngineeringUK’s mission.  Our volunteers are drawn from a diverse range of disciplines and fields, including technology, biochemistry, geology and computing, to name but a few. Our events opportunities are also attractive for many people outside of STEM and we work with hundreds of volunteers with backgrounds in Events Management among others sharing a passion for inspiring young people.  


What do you think are the benefits of volunteering?

I think the benefits of volunteering are immense and I strongly believe in volunteering being a powerful tool for social engagement. Volunteering is a 2-way opportunity, a chance for organisations to work with skilled and motivated volunteers and the opportunity for them to meet new people, enhance their skills and do something different in their day-to-day lives. Nowadays, with our busy life-styles we can easily get bogged down in the routine of everyday life however, volunteering allows you to break this pattern and do something both fun and engaging. Whether just one-off events or ongoing support, people always volunteer with the expectation of ‘giving something back’, but I am always amazed to see how much people gain and learn when they volunteer.


What do you enjoy the most about working with volunteers?

Seeing our volunteers develop has to be my most rewarding aspect. Volunteering always brings the best out of people. I have seen volunteers thrive in their roles and do things that they didn’t think they could. Volunteering gives you the opportunity to develop new skills and be inspired in a collaborative and supportive environment. I believe that when volunteering opportunities have a purpose in an organisation and people feel valued and recognised, people flourish, and passion becomes infectious!


What would you say to anyone thinking of volunteering?

If you’ve thought about volunteering or considering it now, then make the call today and don’t wait! I know we all live very busy lives and our schedules always seem to be full. We enjoy practising our hobbies, going out and we also spending long hours at work, but doing something exciting and personally rewarding, energises and inspires you to find hidden depths and abilities. So, if you are thinking of volunteering, do some research, speak to other people about what they do and go for it. It may take some time and will require some commitment, but what you will get back is priceless.

There are over 160,000 charities in the UK and the majority rely on their volunteers to deliver their work. There are thousands of opportunities out there, from online support, micro-volunteering and skills-based volunteering, the opportunities are endless! Pick up your cause and give something back. You will be surprised by how much you can gain from volunteering.

Over 95% of our volunteers would recommend volunteering with us to a friend or colleague. If you want to find out more our opportunities, check our website.

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