Volunteering is about getting involved and making a valuable contribution to your broader community. The term covers any unpaid work done to benefit others. Volunteers are active in most aspects of society; they do everything from visiting elderly people to coaching a junior soccer team.
In addition to making a positive difference or giving something back to society, there’s also much to be gained on a personal level. Volunteering enables you to:
- gain new skills
- express your talents and qualities
- enhance your employability
- meet people and broaden your perspective
- boost your confidence and self-worth
- feel engaged with a cause or group.
Volunteering assignments can range from casual or part-time work to intensive, short-term projects. In some cases, volunteering can lead to paid work, but it’s best not to enter with this as the goal.
Potential employers know that volunteering requires commitment, motivation and energy, so they look favourably on applicants with volunteer work on their résumés. Volunteering often involves working for small organisations with limited resources – the kind of environments where initiative, leadership and a can-do attitude are critical. Volunteering of any kind develops:
- your capacity to communicate with people
- your ability to identify problems and find solutions
- your ability to handle pressure
- your ability to work independently and/or as part of a team
- your capacity to prioritise.
As with any experience, try to get a strong reference letter or a referee who is willing to be called by prospective employers from future job applications.
Want to gain volunteering experience but don’t know who for and doing what?
- What activities do you enjoy?
- What skills do you have or would like to develop?
- What types of organisations would you like to work for?
For more information about volunteering in Australia and overseas visit: AIESEC www.aiesec.org
The Ampersand Network www.ampersand.org.au
Australian Volunteers International www.australianvolunteers.com
Australian Youth Ambassadors www.ausaid.gov.au/youtham/
Curtin University Volunteers www.cv.curtin.edu.au
Global Volunteer Network New Zealand www.globalvolunteernetwork.org/newzealand/
Good Company www.goodcompany.com.au
Go Volunteer www.govolunteer.com.au
Projects Abroad www.projects-abroad.com.au
SEEK Volunteer www.volunteer.com.au
White Lion www.whitelion.asn.au
World Volunteer Web www.worldvolunteerweb.org