Duke of Edinburgh Award: Is It Worth It?

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The award scheme set up by the Duke of Edinburgh over 60 years ago is the world’s leading youth achievement award.

Aimed at 14 to 24-year-olds, it involves months of volunteering, residential experience and trying expeditions to encourage the learning and developing of skills such as leadership, perseverance and team work.

The length of these depends on the level of the award - bronze, silver or gold the longest of them being 12 months. It’s safe to say it’s not an easy achievement. 

The commitment and skills needed to complete the award make this an impressive showcase to future employers and universities but with so many people now taking part in the award scheme and there being so many other opportunities out there, is it still the valuable experience that it is hyped up to be?   

It’s good for your CV. No doubt everyone who has heard about the Duke of Edinburgh award scheme has heard those classic few words.

It’s probably the reason why a lot people sign up. It’s definitely one of the reasons I did. But in an age where there are a lot of opportunities to show off your skills, the question of its value on paper still remains. 

Radar asked RGU’s employability officer Amy McNaughton for her view on the subject, “My personal view on the DOE award is that it is still very much a valuable experience…I know that employers are still interested in seeing this on student CVs as the DOE of course allows you to gain a vast set of skills that are key skills that can be seen and required in many work places.” In other words, employers love seeing it and it can also teach those essential skills for the workplace.  

This view seems to be consistent with that of other universities and employers with the focus being on the strengths gained and the passion displayed behind the activities and volunteering.

As long as employers can see that relevant and needed skills have been learned and applied or that you have displayed a passion for a specific subject through the award, it will always be a valuable experience.  

That’s all great but for a long stint of volunteering, activities and grueling expeditions that’s sounding a bit dry. Having completed the award to gold myself, I believe that DOE has more to offer than just increasing your employability levels.  

Getting time to pursue what you’re passionate about. The DOE award is very flexible when it comes to what you do for the months of volunteering, skills building and physical activities.

There’s very little that you can’t do. If there’s a new skill, hobby, sport or activity you’ve been wanting to learn or do but you’re struggling to put aside the time to carry it out, this could be your answer.

From learning a language, to practicing archery, to knitting, to coaching, to learning circus skills, to carrying out science experiments or to learning the art of bee keeping, there are endless opportunities.

You might already be pursuing what your passionate in so why not get an award that shows that off?  

Building Relationships. Love it or hate it a lot of the award involves building relationships and working in teams for the expeditions.

Whether that’s making new relationships for volunteering, building on existing ones for activities and residential or working together with your group for an expedition, it definitely develops your communication and sometimes your patience!

Despite the various trials involved, I made a lot of good friends through these experiences and got better at and enjoyed working with people who think differently from myself.  

Memories, the good, the bad and the very ugly. If you complete the award to any level but especially to gold, you’ll have a few stories to tell.

Guaranteed the majority of the more memorable ones will come from your expeditions or your residential.

It could be camping in the snow, startling the sheep with your group’s rendition of the Sound of Music, using your emergency bags to slide down snow lined hills, running away from farmer’s dogs and mad cows or walking around in a complete circle on your final expedition back to your starting point and nearly failing, you’ll have many memories to remember the time fondly.

It’s not the DOE award if you don’t have a memorable experience to boast about around the campfire. 

Skills building. This might sound a bit boring but completing any level of the award teaches some valuable life skills and highlights your strengths and weaknesses.

If anything, it makes you more aware of areas you need to work on or ones that are already quite strong.

The length of the awards alone shows that you can be consistent, organised and dedicated as well as teaching other skills such as leadership, problem solving, teamwork, flexibility etc.

This is with the added bonus of giving you another example of key skills to talk about in your CV and job interviews.   

Challenging yourself. This doesn’t always seem the most fun thing to do but going out of your comfort zone is a great way of experiencing and learning new things.

Sometimes this can take you on a completely different course or you just end up learning something new about yourself, either way it’s a valuable thing to do.  

Achievement. The obvious one. After all the effort put into completing the Duke of Edinburgh Award, you feel pretty good when you get to the end.

There’s nothing like seeing the drive home pull up at the end of an expedition knowing that it’s all done and that you’ll be exchanging your walking boots for your slippers in a few hours.

After the months of hard work, it can leave you feeling that if you’ve completed that, you can do pretty much anything.

It can also leave you with a bit of PTSD when you look at a tent but I guess that’s just part of the experience.    

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