Given the workload during my studies I have not been able to take formal employment but I have been able to gain experience as a volunteer in a number of roles. This has offered me the opportunity to apply some of what I have studied and broadened my horizons to some extent. In 2011 I held an important position as a volunteer at the World Special Olympics that took place in Athens. As Public Relations Liaison I was responsible for meeting athletes and their families arriving from all over the world. This required considerable sensitivity dealing with intellectually and physically challenged participants. The diverse cultures of the visitors also created the need for awareness of their different expectations and behaviour.
Working at the World Special Olympics was not entirely a selfless act. I also gained valuable experience since I was dealing with people. I undertook this work as part of a service learning project for my degree. However, I realised that I had a great deal to offer in applying newly acquired organizational and coordination skills, and doing so under pressure. Being involved in this international event really confirmed my desire to work with people and helped me to appreciate the differences between all of us and the value in that diversity. The experience made me consider the abilities of the athletes and the challenges that they have had to face during their lives. Despite this, they have prevailed and excelled in their areas of athletics.
Studying for my degree, the concept of diversity amongst people at work was a common theme. However, I believe the challenge is how to manage and leverage this diversity; it was the Special Olympics that helped me to think practically about how this might be achieved.
In other volunteer roles I worked with a conflict resolution study-abroad group from Washington D.C. organising their events and visits. On numerous other occasions I assisted a cycling team, providing support for the team and ensuring the safety of spectators.
Being a volunteer has given me a great deal of experience while allowing the flexibility to be able to work in different areas. If time allows, I would like to continue in volunteer roles during the continuation of my studies and when I begin my career.
In my second year at University I won an essay award and was able to make an educational visit to Azerbaijan.
This visit, and my studies within a multicultural community, has certainly influenced my special interest in obtaining an international view.
I am particularly interested in developing a stronger understanding of ways in which value can be gained from realizing the full extent of people’s abilities at work. I am also interested in the role of relationships between people in organisations and how this can be leveraged.