Adam Russell spent time volunteering in India after graduating. He now works as a mechanical engineer for a theatre automation company and believes his experiences helped him stand out in his job interview.
A recent graduate, Adam completed his degree during the height of the recession and had to decide what to do next.
“I remember thinking, do I stay and risk coming out the next quarter with no new memories or skills or do I go (travelling) and risk the job market deteriorating even more,” he says. “I thought taking time out and joining a Raleigh International expedition would give me a fresh aspect on my day to day life which I think is important in this labour market, plus the fun factor and opportunity to give back were also big pulls for me.”
He came across Raleigh in the news advertising graduate bursaries and applied to take part in an eco project in India. This programme was divided into a three week hike through a mountain range called the Western Ghats, a three week environmental project renovating a ranger station in Bandipur National Park and a three week community project helping dig rainwater trenches.
“Teamwork is pretty core to the whole expedition I would say, as you need to motivate each other at the low/frustrating points and also work together to solve problems so I would say that is the skill that I developed most,” he highlights.
However he did sometimes feel restricted by Raleigh’s rules.
“Whilst out there I felt some of Raleigh’s health and safety rules to be over the top to the point where it dampened the experience: things like not being able to travel after dark which cut your exploring opportunities significantly,” he explains.
His highlight, however, was the trekking experience.
“The view of the Western Ghats from one of the top peaks on the last day of trekking was awesome,” he enthuses.
After his volunteering experience Adam applied for and became a project engineer for a hazardous area engineering firm. His is now in his second role, working as a mechanical engineer for a theatre automation company and he believes that volunteering can really help engineers in their career.
“I thinks it’s very important for engineers to do gap years and charity expeditions like Raleigh International for global awareness. For instance one of my clients was in the Indian Navy so I used my experience with Raleigh directly to brief staff on India's unique work culture before heading out there.
“By taking part in Raleigh I’ve developed key skills such as teamwork, communication and developing country awareness. It was and still is a great talking point in interviews. It’s also made me approach challenges with a positive attitude that I didn’t have before,” he explains.