Volunteering: ATE as an investment in yourself

We asked Jemima, Monitor and goat aficionado, why she volunteers with ATE. Here’s what she told us!

I trained as a monitor during my year off between school and university in 2017, and now I’m in my final term of Human Sciences at UCL. Every summer since the training course I have spent one or two weeks volunteering at Superweeks, essentially being showered in love and admiration from eight-year olds (well, maybe sometimes, but I also spend a lot of time washing hands, pouring perfectly equal glasses of squash and taking off muddy outdoor shoes). I’ve also done the occasional school week during term time.

Taking time off paid work during holidays to volunteer with children and return completely exhausted may seem like an odd use of time for a uni student wishing to live off a bit more than student loans. However, I think that ATE has been instrumental in getting paid work experience in a field I enjoy. You are given copious amounts of responsibility from your first day on the job, and you don’t really have a choice but rise to the occasion. The brilliant Directing team (consisting of a Director and one or two Assistant Directors) are there to support you whenever you need them. It truly feels really special to be around so many wonderful people who want you to succeed and are willing to go above and beyond to help you.

After graduation, I will be working in foreign affairs- quite far from the madness of 50 children running around in the forest I hear you say. But are they really that different? ATE teaches you to always be diplomatic, even when little boys poo in their sleeping bags, [to my knowledge this has only happened once on a Superweek – Ed] thus you learn to handle sensitive matters discretely and efficiently. You will also come to realise the importance of expecting the unexpected, for example when your group of teenagers makes up a rap song about the financial crisis, and you’re asked to contribute a verse. Superweeks teach you to think on your feet, be flexible, and to enjoy the bizarre challenges thrown at you (hopefully much like foreign affairs).

I applied for the ATE Monitor Training Course on the day applications closed, not really knowing what to expect. Now, three years later, I am talking about my experiences as a monitor in every job interview, I spend lots of time with my wonderful fellow volunteers, and I plan my summers around Superweeks because I love them so much (and because I need more funny anecdotes to tell my family). If you’re over 17 and think you may like to be around children, then please do yourself a favour and invest your time in ATE. You make friends for life (or at least three years, speaking from experience), your directors can be the most trustworthy referees when you enter the post-uni job hunt, and you will learn an extraordinary amount about yourself and what you are capable of.

To find out more about volunteering with ATE, visit our website. Our 2020 Monitor Training Course runs from 6th – 13th April. Applications close on Sunday 22nd March 2020. 

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