Toby Ferris: My PLUS Award journey

Hi prospective PLUS achievers! I’m Toby, and last year I completed the Bristol PLUS Award alongside my studies as a first-year law student.  


Why did I undertake the Bristol PLUS Award? 

I recognised that the skills I could develop would look impressive on my CV and help me stand out when applying to graduate schemes, since less than 5% of Bristol students receive the Award each year!

I also wanted to explore more of Bristol as, being a law student, I had spent lots of time reading alone in my flat. 

So how did I fill my 70 hours of experience?  

To develop as many skills as possible, I engaged in lots of different experiences throughout the year: 

  1. During the Christmas break, I volunteered at my local food bank and Samaritan’s Purse. At the food bank, I used attention to detail to pack food items into vegetarian, pescatarian, vegan, gluten-free and lactose-free Christmas food packages, depending on their ingredients. At Samaritan’s Purse I volunteered in a high-pressure environment to load over 4,000 shoeboxes ready for shipping to Moldova the next day.  
  1. During my second term, I volunteered at the Volunteering Fair to help fellow students discover charities and opportunities in the Bristol area. I also had the chance to see for myself what else I could get involved with! 

At the Volunteering Fair, I discovered FoodCycle, who provide free meals for people in the Bristol area. When volunteering there I enjoyed chatting with guests, especially learning about politics from one gentleman, which complemented my Law and State module well.  

  1. During this time, I was also Editor and Writer for Economics and Regulation at Dicta Magazine. Attention to detail and research skills were paramount when writing about the ethics of capitalism. 
  1. In March, I decided to set up a new society for calisthenics. I wanted to teach calisthenics to other students, as it’s a great way to get exercise without leaving your flat, so even very busy law students don’t have an excuse! Setting up the society required planning and organisation, and also honed my leadership skills

My final thoughts  

The Bristol PLUS Award has been invaluable towards developing my employability skills, to kick-start my applications to graduate roles.  

I would urge all students to get involved with the PLUS Award, as it could well be the one thing that sets you apart from other applicants. 

Are you up for the challenge? 

If Toby’s PLUS Award journey has inspired you to get involved with volunteering, why not check out the Bristol SU volunteering webpage and join the Volunteering and Fundraising Network?

And while you’re at it… extra-curricular activities (including volunteering) from any year of your studies, anywhere in the world can be used towards your PLUS Award!

The PLUS Award guide contains more example activities that are PLUS-eligible and information about the Award criteria.

To get started, start the Bristol PLUS Award sign-up pathway on mycareer.

Registration closes on 12 February