Ross, United Nations House Scotland Volunteer

10 October 2017

When I left university, like many graduates I found myself in a state of complete confusion around what I wanted to and where I wanted to go.

Having worked in the Scottish Parliament during my studies, I had a taste for politics and trying to understand the function of government.

Ross Volunteer StoryKeeping up to date with social challenges and the way our world is rapidly changing became my mantra; from climate change, continued economic volatility, political instability, it is made clear that we desperately need greater cooperation between civil societies and states to solve global problems.

As such, I looked to volunteer for a Scottish non-government organisation with a strong international outlook and civil society engagement, to enhance my experience.

In 2016, this led me to work with United Nations House Scotland: a UN hub bringing together multiple UN agencies and international development organisations.

Over the course of the year, I learned more about the role of the UN in trying to push the 17 Sustainable Development Goals by 2030: these goals being developed by 193 nations to make the world more sustainable.

The function of UN House Scotland is to primarily educate and raise awareness of these goals, as well as give work experience to graduates and student interns.

Through this experience, we have collectively launched projects on peace and nuclear disarmament, climate change, Brexit, the Yemen conflict and global education.

From a skills development perspective, it has been massively advantageous for me in learning how big events are organised, using SQL databases, networking with different audiences, enhancing my web management skills, as well as gaining confidence through outreach activities.

For example, I have most recently started to speak to school kids and university students, even lecturers about the role of the UN, the 17 SDGs and UN House.

It is a very satisfying place to work and fills me with confidence that there are good people out there trying to combat global problems on a civil society level.

What has been most useful is that it has given me a clear career direction, in which I ultimately want to do a job for the social good, which works on tackling the 17 SDGs. 

Therefore, my long term aim is to use this crucial volunteering experience and the contacts I have met to develop my own non-government organisation.

Without having done this volunteering, I would still be in a state of confusion, unsure of my own abilities and feeling less valued. The greatest advice I could give to anyone thinking about volunteering is to go volunteer in something that interests you. It could change your life or career direction. It did with mine and I am most grateful for that.

(Image: Visit at UN House Scotland, Ross (right) and Sundeep Bhutoria (centre), Treasurer of the World Federation of United Nations Associations)