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Why I volunteer from home

Why I volunteer from home

James Ankers joined the Leeds Network in 2012 and has since been able to advise many students who are interested in entering his industry. The Leeds Network is an online platform which enables alumni to communicate with students wherever they are in the world.

“I joined the Leeds Network as students would be able to come to me with targeted questions based on their knowledge of my background and my experiences so I would genuinely be able to help them.

I really liked the idea of being an alumni volunteer because I just wanted to be able to help other people in whatever way I can. In busy professional lives, you spend so much of your time working for a company and really being involved in your work and I don't have that much time to do things outside of work and my family. But this felt like something which was a bite sized opportunity, which I could do in relatively small chunks of time around the rest of my busy life and something where I felt like I really could contribute to current university students.

I have had a number of people contact me over several years with a variety of different questions about my career and the way they may start their careers. Each of those cases I've probably spoken to them for between 15-45 minutes at a time, often on a repeat basis as well, so some of those people I've spoken 2 or 3 or 4 times over a period of time. I think they have got value out of those conversations with me and that has given me satisfaction and that is really what it is about - me being able to help other people.

I can remember one or two particular cases where I have spoken to students who have been starting out on their career and have continued to have that conversation with them after they have left Leeds. I think the conversation we have had has genuinely helped them land a position to start off their career, maybe not necessarily what they first initially wanted to do, but we've worked through the complexities and difficulties they found in starting their careers and eventually have got to where they wanted to be.

I enjoy speaking to people and hearing about what their challenges are and understanding what they are trying to get out of their lives and really just being able to help them with my own experiences. It is very satisfying when you have a conversation with somebody or you get a follow up email with somebody who thanks you because they really feel that they have got something out a of a conversation.

The time commitment is not significant and frankly if you are contacted by a student and you haven't got time to speak to them, then that's generally okay. The commitment is not significant but you can really get a lot out of it and I genuinely think it helps students and that is what it is all about." 

James Ankers (Economics and Politics, 1997)

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