Launched during the summer of 2020, Studenteer connects students and recent graduates with charities and mentors across the UK. All work is voluntary, and students can get experience in various industries of their interest. Roar interviewed Managing Director and Co-founder Hollie Smith and Second year International Relations Student at King’s Francesca Dunlop, who is a ‘Studenteer’, to learn more.
Entirely run by students and recent graduates, work on Studenteer started in March before it was officially launched in June. The concept came from Furlonteer, a platform which seeks to match professionals with charities that need assistance with specific projects. Hollie recalls that around the time she heard about Furlonteer, her summer internship got revoked due to the pandemic. Meanwhile, the graduate job offer of her friend and other Co-founder of Studenteer Rebecca Moy also got revoked. These events made the two girls think more about what could have been done for all students seeking job and internship opportunities, and especially for those without any sufficient work experience. Hollie shares:
“When Furlonteer came, Rebecca and I realised what a good idea this was. We knew this was needed for students as well. Rebecca was graduating that year and her graduate job offer got revoked because of Covid, and I had only finished first year, but my summer internship was revoked as well. We thought about all those students who were probably having their offers revoked and cannot get experience on their CV, so we thought of providing this service remotely. Sam and Jess, who were working at Furlonteer came and helped us to launch Studenteer.
“At Studenteer we connect students and recent graduates to charities and good causes, and we have expanded to start-up businesses that benefit the community in some way, ensuring no profit is made, and they are not exploiting the students in any way. We match them with projects made by the charities themselves. Each charity comes to us with a different task. Some request help with their social media channels, others ask for assistance with budgeting, etc. We are then finding a student that is a good fit for the role. We are not only looking at the student’s degree. Rather we focus on the students’ interests, skills, hobbies and experience. What is most important is what they would like to get experience in, so we take it on a very personal level. You can get that experience and also find a mentor from a particular area to help you and train you.”
All students and recent graduates from UK-based universities can apply to become a Studenteer. There are currently three categories, being ‘Studenteer’, ‘Mentor’, ‘Register a Cause’.
Studenteers: To apply, the candidate must have graduated in 2018 or after, or be a current student in a UK-based university, which includes international students as well. UK-based students with Level 4 higher education (with a Degree Apprenticeship, for example) or above are also encouraged to apply.
Mentors: At first, the organisation used to work with mentors provided by Furlonteer. Then a database database with professionals with at least 3 years of experience in their industry who wanted to help students, was created and utilised in Studenteer. All mentors are working alongside a student with a project or without a project to guide the student and help them develop certain skills. Hollie further adds that they are looking for people who are really specialised in their sphere:
“We do a little bit of work with the mentor prior to matching them with students in order to make sure they are well-equipped. Once they go through our tailored ‘guide to mentoring’, we present the mentor to the particular student. Iff the student is happy to proceed, they proceed. If the relationship does no’t work, we are finding them new mentors.”
Register a cause: Any charities from non-profit registered companies are welcome to apply.
Hollie further explains they are gaining more popularity as time passes, which makes her hopeful the expansion of their organisation will continue in the post-Covid world as well. At the moment all communication and work experience is conducted remotely, but Hollie mentions the interest of further face-to-face collaboration when this becomes possible.
KCL student Francesca also jumps in, explaining more about her experience with Studenteer during the summer. She volunteered on a writing project for three weeks during August and thoroughly enjoyed the time she had, the skills she developed and the nice people she met. She shares:
“Studenteer partnered me with the North Yorkshire County Council who were creating a Youth Writers Group. We were helping during this festival, called ‘The Yorkshire Festival of Story’. It was a virtual festival with a lot of art and poetry. Our job was to write reviews and to help the festival get exposure. The communication of my team has even continued beyond that particular project. Our mentor emails us every now and then, sending opportunities we might find of interest. The best part was there was no pressure, as they know how hard it is to be fully committed when studying and having other responsibilities as well. As the projects’ aim is for students to gain experience while serving a good cause, no one really expects you to be a professional. There was no pressure at all.
“I was pleasantly surprised how nice everyone was. I was trying to get writing experience, which was something hard to do because it is something a lot of people are interested in. So I am really happy I did this. Plus, I got to interview the famous English award-winning authorJoanne Harris. Got to ask her about her book, the writing process and advice for young women who are just starting.”
Francesca further adds:
“It is something nice to have on my CV. It shows I took the initiative and the time, I got experience and I helped an organisation. I think this would really help me in the future. My experience with the team was great, and I have already told my friends to go and join.”
Both Hollie and Francesca urge students to go check Studenteer’s Instagram, where the organisation posts information, images and stories about projects and initiatives. They also encourage everyone seeking for voluntary experience to apply. Registering as a Studenteer does not commit students to anything but can provide opportunities related to the desired experience.