Pauli Platek: 'Without volunteering, I wouldn’t be where I am today'

27 October 2015

Pauli Platek explains how running a clothes charity at university helped her land a great job in Public Affairs with Lloyds Banking Group…

At the end of my first year at university I decided I wanted to get involved in volunteering. I applied for something called the Change Programme, which was a short course for people who want raise awareness of Oxfam campaigns. I was surprised at being selected, but relished the great opportunity to learn about campaigning, communications and running events. Driven by this success I went on to secure a place on the Lloyds Scholars programme. As part of the scheme I had to undertake 100 hours of volunteering in my local community every year for the next two years. I decided to set up the university’s Oxfam society that year and ran several successful campaigns on campus.

In my final year at university I wanted to do something bigger, so I set up a charity programme which gave young homeless people free smart clothes for job interviews. I contacted local businesses and ran clothes collections on their premises - including Lloyds Banking Group, who were my biggest donors. By the end of the year, over a thousand young people had access to the service. In recognition of the project’s success, I received an award from both university and the Lloyds Scholars programme.

After university, I joined Lloyds Banking Group’s graduate scheme and was seconded to the Lloyds Bank Foundation for one of my placements. I had developed an interest in charity and responsible business during my time at university and I was keen to learn more about the Foundation, which is a major third sector funder which provides grants and other practical support to small charities. 

Without volunteering, I wouldn’t be where I am today. I now work in public affairs at Lloyds Banking Group in a team which covers political engagement as well as regulation and policy. Volunteering boosted my confidence in developing relationships, building networks and seizing opportunities. It also helped me to trust my own judgement – all skills which I have found incredibly useful at work.

Volunteering is a great way to break out of your comfort zone. It creates opportunities that you could not have anticipated, and can give your career a real boost, especially when you’re just starting out. I thought I would go into publishing or charity, but now I work in public affairs – a career path I would have never considered before. My career has been fast-tracked thanks to the skills I gained while volunteering, but also because of the people I met and networks I built along the way. It’s something every student would benefit from getting involved in. 

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