Studenteer is a non-profit organisation founded at the beginning of lockdown in 2020, that connects students and recent graduates to charities, good causes and mentors for remote volunteer placements. Originally created in partnership with Furlonteer, it is run by students, for students.
In its unique position of being run completely by students and recent graduates, the team understands first-hand and can relate personally to students’ need for worthwhile, valuable work experience especially in the current economy, and allows them to bring genuine passion and dedication to their work.
The fact that many summer internships, including that of Managing Director and Co-Founder Hollie Smith, were revoked in 2020 at the peak of COVID-19 was a key reason for founding Studenteer.
With the job market becoming more competitive with fewer graduate positions available, and with charity donations and assistance drying up due to the pandemic, Hollie, alongside Co-Founders Sam Tasker-Grindley, Rebecca Moy, Stella Norris and Jessica Hockey, saw an opportunity to help both students and good causes through this challenging time, and thus, Studenteer was born.
Hollie, a creative writing student at Sheffield Hallam University currently leads the internal team at Studenteer, alongside Operations Director Chris Oldnall, a maths student at the University of York.
They are currently home to 35 internal student volunteers, from a range of universities and degree backgrounds and from all over the UK.
Students and recent graduates are an untapped resource. Their skillset is often overlooked due to lack of experience, but with proactive and enthusiastic students keen to further develop their skills whilst making a difference, and a team of dedicated mentors guiding them, this win-win partnership can provide fresh new perspectives and mutually beneficial support to both the charities and Studenteers involved.
A quarter of employers have admitted to recruiting fewer graduates and are said to be hiring 31% fewer interns and placement students, and in August of 2020, Sky News talked of the 60,000 jobs in the charity sector which were likely to go.
Additionally, in November last year, the BBC reported that at Virgin Money Giving, sponsorship for charities formed before 2020 was down £25m compared to the previous year. With these donations drying up, fundraising events cancelled, and face-to-face support limited due to social distancing restrictions, good causes have been suffering immensely.
Studenteer offers free remote support to these good causes and charities-in-need. In whatever area they may be struggling with, such as marketing, finance, web development, design, legal and admin, to name a few. Studenteer will find a student or recent graduate willing to volunteer their time and skills, whilst also guiding and supporting them throughout the journey.
The projects Studenteer provides are tailored on both ends, so both the students’ skills and interests, and the charities needs are taken into consideration personally both by a dedicated project assistant and matching assistant at Studenteer HQ. This enables students’ career-aspirations to play a key role, which can help in narrowing the opportunity gap as their passions and skills are considered just as much as their degree and any previous experience they may have.
So how does it work?
Firstly, through charity outreach and liaising with a good cause, a project brief is created with a member of the project team. Here, the guidelines for the project can be discussed, including for example, the area that the cause would like support with, the duration of the project and the skills that will be required.
Next, the matching team will use their database of students and recent graduates to find a suitable match for the requirements of the cause, as mentioned in the project brief. These possible student matches are contacted and the project discussed in order to find the ideal volunteer.
Throughout the duration of the project, the Studenteer team is available to reach out to with any concerns to do with the Studenteer or the project itself. The Studenteer can also have access to a mentor which can help guide and assist them through the process, enabling them to put their skills into practice with the cause to the best of their ability.
After the project, the dedicated project review team can gain any feedback to improve on any future projects and maintain a great working partnership on both ends. This streamlined approach enables easy contact and assurance of quality through each stage of the process, from the charity outreach, matching of a Studenteer to a cause, over the project duration and during the project review.
The impact on both these charity partners and Studenteers has been clear.
Andy Hill from Voicebox UK, an organisation which promotes healthy masculinity through student-led drama and performance workshops has said of the help Studenteer provided them:
“10/10. Working with Studenteer has been invaluable. Thanks to the Studenteers who support us, our presence on social media has increased tenfold, and our Outreach team is able to connect with more schools in the local area. During such a challenging year, Studenteers have helped Voicebox deliver critical work about gender and mental health to young people across the UK. Thank you!”
Additionally, the Adventure Boutique Foundation, a charity which helps improve the livelihoods of people and communities around the world with projects including disaster recovery in Nepal and helping to fund vital supplies to Karigiri Leprosy Hospital, India, has said on their partnership with a Studenteer:
“Studenteer has been a great help to The Adventure Boutique Foundation to bring knowledge and new ideas to the foundation about marketing and social media. Studenteer has supported our student which has helped her, and us, to put together solid campaigns. I would definitely recommend Studenteer to any charity seeking a little extra (or a lot of) help as if paired with a Student who is enthusiastic about your cause and the area in which help is needed they can really exceed in making a difference.”
On the experience of being partnered for a project with charity PANS PANDAS UK, Sophie Rogers has
“Overall my experience being paired through Studenteer with PANS PANDAS UK to redesign their website was really positive. I had a lot of extra time over the summer, with the university term being finished and the pandemic, so it was really nice to be able to help a charity through skills I already had, whilst developing those skills further. I think the placement was paired really well, and I’ve now furthered my experience in website design, which I hope to enter into a career in after graduating, whilst helping a great cause.”
So far, Studenteer has achieved a lot in its short time and is growing exponentially. The team currently boasts 150 unique causes in its roster, with these charity partners spanning the UK. There are currently 2,200 Studenteers, and the team are on track to help 10,000 over the next three years.
With this growth, the future looks brighter than ever. Alongside Studenteer’s main focus of providing placements with purpose, the team offers month-long internships at Studenteer HQ, so far focusing on various causes such as criminal justice, youth empowerment, environment, and much more.
They also provide popular online skills workshops with industry professionals, for example, on themes such as SEO, social media marketing and how to make the most of LinkedIn and have recently branched out to collaborating with Gen Z student organisations, hosting panel discussions and webinars, and creating a student community using social media.
However, with this growth comes inevitable challenges. With free trials on essential software running out, Studenteer needed to raise funds to allow their service to remain free forever. This led to their fundraising initiative “Steps for Studenteer”, where between the 19th and 25th April, each of the 35 internal volunteers walked a marathon to help raise the £1,500 needed to sustain Studenteer’s growth and help 10,000 students over the next three years. You can find out more and donate via their GoFundMe campaign.
If you are a non-profit organisation that would be interested in creating a project and hosting a Studenteer, you can get in touch with the team via this form. Alternatively, you can contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
To find out more, please visit their website.
You can also visit their social media pages, where you can find up-to-date and informative content. Their Instagram and Twitter handles are “@studenteer_” and you can also find them on LinkedIn and Facebook.
Anna-Karina Yuill volunteers with the PR team at Studenteer. She is an International Business and Spanish student at the University of Leeds and enjoys writing web content and articles in her spare time.
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