Development & Alumni Relations Office 

GRADUATE PROFILE PROVIDERS – CELEBRATING VOLUNTEERS’ WEEK 2020 AT QUEEN’SVolunteer Week 2020 - profile providers collage against coloured hands backdrop

01 June 2020

Getting the celebrations underway for Volunteers’ Week at Queen’s (1-5 June), today we acknowledge and thank all those graduates who provide the University with career profiles – for online class notes, for faculty and departmental websites and for student recruitment prospectuses, careers-related events and news stories.  

Speaking ahead of Volunteers’ Week, Head of Alumni and Supporter Engagement, Ian Moore said: “Each and every one of our 468 alumni volunteers over the last year has played an integral role in the life of Queen’s.

“Whether it’s providing support and guidance to the University on its journey, encouraging and motivating our students to pursue inspirational careers through mentoring or work-related placements or simply keeping the University family connected around the world through our graduate associations, alumni volunteers make such a difference.

“We are hugely grateful to every one of our volunteers for the gifts of time that they give to Queen’s.”

During the week and across a number of areas, Queen’s is focusing on some of the many hundreds of graduates who, during the last 12 months, have volunteered in different ways in support of the University.

Throughout Volunteers’ Week, we are looking at how graduates can get more involved with Queen’s through a variety of volunteering activities, each with varying levels of time commitment:

Today we acknowledge all those who provide graduate profiles – details of how their University experience and the subjects they studied have helped them in their careers – or news of a special achievement, which shows where a Queen’s degree can lead. Such information helps to inform prospective students of the benefits of studying at Queen’s.

“We love to hear how Queen’s graduates are getting on their careers and will always welcome news of individual achievements,” said Natasha Sharma, the University’s Alumni Relations Volunteer Manager.

“Graduates in the Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences (AHSS) enjoy very successful careers in the fields of publishing, public relations, broadcasting, law, management consultancy, government and many others,” said Natasha.

Made@AHSS is an annual celebration of alumni, students and staff of the Faculty. Career opportunities available to current students are highlighted and celebrated by showcasing the career successes of AHSS alumni. BBC NI Reporter and regular Queen's alumni volunteer, Mark Simpson (BA History 1989, pictured 2nd from left above), was a previous participant,” she said.

A graduate profile can often provide a current student with a road map for their future career, highlighting pitfalls to be avoided, opportunities that they may not currently be aware of, or even flagging up extracurricular activities which will make a CV stand out from the crowd.

“By profiling their careers, and their time at Queen’s, alumni like Sue Gray, Mark Simpson and Kelly Andrews are an inspiration to future generations of civil servants, broadcasters and third sector leaders,” added Natasha.

Holly Poots, LLB 2020 (pictured above right) shared details of her career path which led her to Belfast firm Arthur Cox where she was an Associate Solicitor before moving to BT as a Commercial Lawyer. After graduation, and following some initial doubts where she would practise, Holly realised how much her degree with Queen’s was held in high regard.

Many graduates volunteer their personal endorsements for specific courses or qualifications that they have undertaken at Queen’s. Sharing their experiences with others potential Queen’s students, often working in very similar careers, can helps to sell the advantages of a particular professional qualification or degree course.  

MBA alum Ciaran Harvey (right) is one of many such graduates. Ciaran was happy to tell others that the MBA course at Queen’s ‘changed his life’ and taught him to ‘look at the world…in a different way’.

“Often an individual graduate achievement, which an alumnus or alumna is prepared to share with us through a news story that we then share with our alumni around the world, can hugely enhance the reputation of the course they studied. This is another very important way volunteering,” said Natasha.

“Take for example Louise Nealon (above left), a 2016 Master’s in Creative Writing graduate, who has just signed a six-figure deal for her debut novel, Snowflake. Louise has been talking extensively to us and her story is certainly an inspiration for anyone thinking of coming to Queen’s to study literature.

“It says so much about the quality of teaching at the Seamus Heaney Centre at the University, which is now enjoying a worldwide reputation.”

While the contribution of profile and commendations could be important for the future career of an individual Queen’s student, the simple act of providing that career pen picture could also be beneficial for the volunteer graduate.

“For our alumni volunteers,” continued Natasha, “volunteering can also be a really great way to develop their own transferable skills. It can help broaden and expand their personal networks, and in most cases it has a really positive impact on the individual’s mental health and wellbeing.

“And the more you do it, the greater the buzz!” she added.

For further details on becoming a graduate volunteer at Queen’s University Belfast – such as becoming a career mentor, providing a work place learning opportunity, or assisting with student recruitment – please contact Alumni Volunteering Manager, Natasha Sharma.

For general enquiries about this story or to submit a graduate news item, please contact Gerry Power, Communications Officer, Development and Alumni Relations Office, Queen’s University Belfast.

Volunteering opportunities:   

Volunteering can take many forms. Sometimes graduates may not even realise that they are volunteering, or even see themselves as volunteers!

1. Profile provision

Providing a profile photo, along with details of a graduate career path, can have massive benefits. The University can use this information in prospectuses or on our website to inform prospective students of the value of a Queen’s degree. If you would like to volunteer in this way, please draft 300 words (max) outlining your career path and send this, along with a recent high-res profile photo, to Natasha Sharma

2. Associations

Alumni associations and chapters bridge the gap between Queen's graduates and the University all around the world. These groups – and the events and activities they organise – are run by alumni volunteers, who find it a mutually beneficial way of staying in touch. For more on joining, or becoming involved in the running of one of our alumni groups at home or around the world visit our associations web page.

3. Mentoring

Volunteer mentors make themselves available as sounding boards for current students and younger graduates. For current students, finding out how best to prepare for the world of work – and how to make progress once they get there – can be life changing. For younger graduates too, having a chance to talk to someone who has already been down the same career path can also be hugely beneficial.

Mentors increase employee knowledge and improve existing skills, can be hugely beneficial in terms of professional and personal development and improve employee satisfaction and retention. For more on mentoring opportunities, please contact Natasha Sharma.  

4. Placements

When alumni introduce us to their organisations, it enables our Work Related Learning and Placement Offices support staff to uncover the potential opportunities by understanding the company needs. By implementing a system that’s been operating for more than 25 years, the right students are then matched to relevant opportunities, such as placements, careers fairs and company visits, to the mutual benefit of both parties, creating long-standing positive relationships with our engaged corporates. Work related learning can even occur virtually, with individual or groups of students. To discuss providing a student placement, please contact Natasha Sharma.   

5. Recruitment

Many graduates give back in another special way, by sharing their positive experiences of Queen’s - and their career path since - with a student holding offer for, or considering applying to, Queen’s. In this way, the graduate adds real credibility to our efforts, as the potential student can hear about the value of a Queen’s degree directly from someone who has attended the University. As a volunteer in this key area, the individual graduate may speak at online recruitment events, stand with us at careers fairs or network with potential students at virtual events. To discuss becoming a recruitment volunteer for Queen's, please contact Natasha Sharma.   


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