Francesca, London

After graduating Francesca decided to go travelling for four months. She constantly had the worry of how tough it would be to find a job because of being in the height of the recession. So she started looking and applying for work a couple of months before she came back.


She was right, it was hard. But a spot of volunteering really helped. After adding it to her CV it was one of the things that set her apart from other people and in February she landed her first job at top city accounting firm Morgan Stanley.


The volunteering Francesca did was through TimeBank’s Digitall project ( where she mentored an older person to help her achieve her personal digital goals.


“I would recommend volunteering to any student or graduate”, says Francesca.“Having something extra to add to your CV is so important and it really works. And it doesn’t have to be a huge commitment – you can easily fit it in to your lifestyle, even whilst you’re studying or during college or university holidays.”


With the Digitall project it only takes twelve hours to complete. And you can choose to do it for as little as one hour a week if you want to. Lots of volunteers do it for two hours a week, completing it in just six weeks.


In those twelve hours Francesca developed essential skills such as communication and organisational skills – she also developed her teaching and basic IT skills which she was able to talk about in her interview with Morgan Stanley.


Not just great for personal development and helping her secure her first job but Francesca really enjoyed volunteering on the Digitall project too.


Francesca adds,


“I had absolutely nothing on, I was just sitting searching for jobs and becoming more and more disheartened. It’s very easy to become demoralised when you’re unemployed, especially when you’ve worked so hard at university. So I needed to do something and volunteering on the Digitall project gave me something really fulfilling to do.”


Jennifer Barlow, 78 years old, really benefited from Francesca’s help. She’d just bought a laptop because she wanted to use the internet at home. But she didn’t have the confidence to use it on her own and really needed some help with basic things like searching, price comparison websites and setting up an email address and password. Francesca helped her become more confident making and receiving calls on her mobile phone too.


Jennifer says,


“Digitall was a really satisfying project. I was such a difficult case because I’m 78 and have always been scared of anything to do with machines. But Francesca gave me enormous confidence and now I’m able to do things on my own like book holidays and search for local art classes.


She helped me with my mobile phone too – I only really use it for emergencies but I didn’t even know how to store numbers or make and receive calls. I’ve got the notes that she wrote for me pinned up in the kitchen so I can always refer back to them when I need to.”