Job seekers applying for a full-time position are often faced with a familiar challenge: they are interested in gaining experience, but have no work experience to prove they are qualified.
In a previous blog post where we discussed on what to write on your CV when you have more life experience than work experience, we talked about using volunteer jobs to convey your skills and experiences to your potential employer. This week, you’ll learn more about the importance of volunteer work, how to find volunteer opportunities, and how to transition from volunteering to a career.
Volunteer work is the foundation of selfless service and hard work. The benefits of volunteer work are numerous. Its effects begin with the individual and organization, then extends far beyond the larger community.
In essence, as much as volunteering is an essential part of a functioning society, it can also be a raison d’etre of an individual’s career path. You as a student can benefit greatly from being active at a volunteer job be it a holiday job or lending your skills pro bono.
Before finding a place to volunteer, there are several things to think about:
- What kind of volunteer work do you want to do?
- What kind of organisation do you want to volunteer for?
- Will it make you a better person at your next job and in the society?
A sage once said that it is far more enriching as a young graduate to work at a place filled with the possibilities of acquiring much needed skills and experience where you are paid close to nothing, than to find work at a big organisation doing nothing memorable.
While many people think that feeding homeless people or performing at any job without pay is what volunteering entails and as such holds no rewards to the job-seeking individual, there are ways to completely turn a volunteer work into a rewarding service.
Why You Need to Find a Volunteer Job
1. To expand your professional and personal networks
While an individual generally does not receive compensation for volunteer hours, the rewards of service go far beyond that of monetary payment. In addition to the personal satisfaction and deeper understanding of community gained in helping a person or organization, individuals who volunteer are likely to develop a network of contacts that can be useful when searching for a job.
2. To learn new and transferable skills
Volunteering will help you develop new job skills as well as apply current skills in new ways. For example, certain people learn the ability to speak in public with confidence from teaching a classroom of rowdy school children. An event manager who has worked at a fundraising event or other mission-based events could use her marketing skills to help an organization with their promotion and publicity. A university student accustomed to doing research for a nonprofit now does research for a international science project. Your volunteer skills can take you places.
3. To prove yourself —even with no work experience
Volunteerism is a sure way to affirm the values you possess as an individual. It can show your commitment and your work ethic. Interestingly, in applying for postgraduate studies into many foreign schools, much focus is often placed on personality. By turning your values into action, you will demonstrate to a potential employer/admission official that you are committed to—and educated about—their issue of concern.
How to Volunteer
The main sectors of nonprofits and volunteer work include social and legal services, civic and environmental advocacy, arts and culture, education, health services, and international relations and development. Broadly, they include:
- Tutoring at a refugee camp
- Helping struggling communities
- Providing administrative help at social service centres
- Getting involved in human rights and social justice
- Working on a conservation project in your local council area
- Assisting in conservation and wildlife research
- Working in any research programme
- Providing guidance and counselling for children
- Volunteering at performing arts centers
- Working in after-school programs for children
- Promoting arts and cultural programmes
- Tutoring school children in
- Providing pro-bono legal services
- Promoting and organising campaigns and events
- Bringing out your comedic skills to entertain people in grief
- Helping the elderly and disabled
- and so many more fun experiences!!
Plan to gain some relevant work experience in voluntary work today. Have something lined up if you have free time or you haven’t found a job yet. There are a number of voluntary work on AfterSchoolAfrica so start now to get your formal placement and applications in early.