Ross Elder from Inverness progressed from volunteer to employee after securing an internship with the Cairngorms National Park Authority

I TRIED studying. I started a couple of courses, one in Perth and another in Edinburgh, but put simply, I was unhappy. I didn’t have any plans to volunteer but when I came across ProjectScotland online, I was keen to explore what the organisation had to offer. At the time I wasn’t having much luck finding suitable employment through my local Job Centre. I was 25 years old and my lack of direction left me feeling pretty low.

I didn’t know what to do next without blindly trying another further education course. When I applied to ProjectScotland I was put in touch with one of the local youth engagement managers, Mark Allan. I realised during even the earliest of conversations with Mark that volunteering could offer me the chance of gaining valuable experience while giving back in my community. It was a turning point for me.

Mark told me stories about other volunteers which were great to hear. I found myself interested in a few of the opportunities in my area. I like Mark, he’s a great chap, very kind.

I was happy to go the extra mile, literally. With support, I travelled 30 miles each way to meet the commitment of my volunteering role. Mark helped me arrange a car share with a colleague so I could work two days a week with the digital communications team, supporting content creation for Cairngorms National Park Authority.

The National:

Sian Jamieson is the digital campaigns officer there. She is an advocate for supported volunteering and praised ProjectScotland and Mark directly for being able to match the perfect volunteer to the opportunity within her team.

I was made to feel so welcome and was quickly working on an archive of images which I found really interesting. I’ve also done a bit of photography and am really in to it, so it was great to be asked to take pictures of events or video clips for use on social media.

Before I even completed my volunteer placement, I was offered an internship at the park. I was so surprised, I didn’t realise the value I was adding, and it was great to hear such positive feedback.

The cherry on the top was the job offer, which essentially means I will continue to do the work I started as a ProjectScotland volunteer but as a paid employee. I feel a lot more positive and I have a real desire to continue working hard and trying new things. Doors are finally opening for me, including the door to a new flat (I previously lived with my family). It’s made a huge difference. I’m much happier.

I feel really lucky to have been placed in such a lovely organisation, everyone is so nice. Being offered a job was a lovely surprise. I had been trying to do freelance photography with no success but this experience has given me a big boost. In addition to working two days a week at the park, I’m now working on getting back in to wedding photography. It’s all really helped my confidence.

ProjectScotland partners with hundreds of organisations across Scotland. Young people aged 16 to 30 can apply for volunteering opportunities in their area at