So, you’re in highschool. It’s HSC year and you’re doing 13 units, vying for rank one in all your subjects (you’re ambitious).
Or, you’re in uni. You’ve got classes 3 days a week and you’re working at a part-time job another 3 days. Your weekend is now only one day long.
These aren’t exactly situations where you’ve got “time to spare”. But it’s worthwhile to think about using time you do have to volunteer.
In high school, I used to volunteer at the library (contacting books), the canteen (selling food), in an environmental group (doing water testing) and in random school events.
In uni, I volunteered on charity days (Bandaged Bear, Pink Ribbon etc) and took up volunteer web designing for various non-profit organisations.
Why did I volunteer? Why should you look into volunteering?
- You can develop your skills, portfolio and resume through your volunteer work experiences
- You can build contacts and network
- Your volunteer work experience can contribute towards awards
- You can give something back to the community and feel like you’ve achieved something
- You can support a cause you believe in, in a non-financial way
Looking at my own personal experiences, all of these reasons are definitely true.
When I volunteered to develop a website for an environmental organisation, one of the employees of the organisation was really pleased with my work. She told me that she also worked for an events management company and said that they would be interested in paying for my work! So as a result of my volunteer work, I’d made contacts, which led me to my paid web development work.
My volunteer work in high school was integral to me gaining awards at school. We were required to do say 300 hours of community service and school service in order to attain these school awards (Bronze, Silver, Gold). In Year 11 and 12, everyone was in a mad rush to build up these hours, because basically these Bronze, Silver and Gold awards were a great addition to any scholarship application. Don’t wait until the last minute to try and volunteer!
For me, volunteering has always given me great satisfaction. I’m proud of the fact that I am able to contribute and give back to these communities and organisations, which have or will help me at some point in my life. Although I have no qualifications in web design or development, I think that it is important to use whatever (level of) skills I have to and put them to use. I have no illusions about the prospect of me making “big bucks” though these skills, so instead I use them towards helping others.
As a frugal uni student, it’s also hard to make monetary donations, when you’ve got a big HELP debt building up. Volunteering is a way to support causes that I believe in, without going broke or feeling guilty. Rather than contributing money, I contribute my skills and my time. In a way, this is more rewarding than just handing over cash.
How do I volunteer?
1. Think about what your skills are. If you don’t have any, that’s ok! There are plenty of unskilled volunteering jobs out there still.
2. Think about what time you have available. Do you want a one-off volunteering job, or long-term? Do you want to volunteer from home or go out?
3. Search for volunteer jobs. These are the sites I use:
- Seek.com.au Volunteer – search engine for most volunteer jobs
- Pro Bono Australia – skilled volunteer jobs
I’m very interested in how other people have found volunteering and any tips/stories they can share. Please comment!
What has been your experience of volunteering?