Some students and graduates want to make a positive contribution to society, while others want to gain the skills needed to pursue certain careers. One thing for sure is giving your time to a worthy cause goes a long way to impressing potential employers. Volunteering can demonstrate your commitment to a sector, your proactive and independent nature and your ability to communicate effectively and work as part of a team.
How voluntary work experience can help your career
Volunteering gives you the opportunity to:
- boost your CV with experience
- gain valuable transferable skills such as communication, teamwork, time management, organisation and decision making
- build confidence
- explore different areas of work
- expand your network of contacts.
How to apply
Many voluntary opportunities are advertised and have set procedures that you need to follow. This may include completing an application form or submitting your CV and cover letter, followed by an interview.
If you have an organisation and volunteer role in mind you could send a speculative application. You’ll need to explain why you want to volunteer with them, state any previous experience and outline what you could offer their organisation. Make sure you find a contact name and address your letter or email directly to them.
Volunteering offers vital help to people in need, worthwhile causes, and the community, but the benefits can be even greater for you, the volunteer. Volunteering and helping others can reduce stress, combat depression, keep you mentally stimulated, and provide a sense of purpose.
Benefits of voluntary work experience
Connects you to others
One of the more well-known benefits of volunteering is the impact on the community. Volunteering allows you to connect to your community and make it a better place. Even helping with the smallest tasks can make a real difference to the lives of people, animals, and organisations in need. Dedicating your time as a volunteer helps you make new friends, expand your network, and boost your social skills.
- Increases self-confidence
You are doing good for others and the community, which provides a natural sense of accomplishment. Your role as a volunteer can also give you a sense of pride and identity. And the better you feel about yourself, the more likely you are to have a positive view of your life and future goals.
Brings fun and fulfilment to your life
Volunteering is a fun and easy way to explore your interests and passion and provides you with renewed creativity, motivation, and vision that can carry over into your personal and professional life.
How to find the right voluntary work experience opportunity
There are numerous voluntary work experience opportunities available. The key is to find a position that you would enjoy and can do. It’s also important to make sure that your commitment matches the organisation’s needs. Ask yourself the following questions:
- Would you like to work with adults, children, animals?
- Do you prefer to work alone or as part of a team?
- How much time are you willing to commit?
- What skills can you bring to a volunteer job?
Getting the most out of volunteering
You’re donating your valuable time, so it’s important that you enjoy and benefit from your work experience. To make sure that your volunteering position is a good fit:
Make sure you know what’s expected
You should be comfortable with the organisation and understand the time commitment. Consider starting small so that you don’t over commit yourself at first. Give yourself some flexibility to change your focus if needed.
You want to make sure that the experience is right for your skills, your goals, and the time you want to spend.
Don’t be afraid to make a change
Don’t force yourself into a bad fit or feel obliged to stick with a volunteering role you dislike. Talk to the organisation about changing your focus or look for a different organisation that’s a better fit.
The best volunteer experiences benefit both the volunteer and the organisation. If you’re not enjoying yourself, ask yourself why. Pinpointing what’s bothering you can help you decide how to proceed.