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  • Marina Pacheco

Volunteer - it will help your career

Volunteering for your career.
Duke of Edinburgh Volunteers

As the exams come to an end and young people start looking about for what to do next, it's worth considering volunteering. Volunteering comes in hundreds of different forms but essentially anything that is done for free is volunteering. You can put as little or as much time as you like into volunteering. I know some people who do hundreds of different things as a volunteer, I know plenty of others who never do it at all, but volunteering can be hugely beneficial for your career and here’s why:

You learn new skills and gain work experience

Yes it’s unpaid and that is hard, I know, I volunteered for a year before I finally landed my first paid job. Most charities recognise that people still need to earn money so will take on volunteers who can only work evenings or give one or two days a week to the charity whilst they do paid work or see to their other duties the rest of the time. The charities gain valuable support and you gain new skills, new friendships and entry into that charity’s community.

If you are looking to up-skill so that you can get a promotion or gain new skills to change careers volunteering will give you that opportunity. Sometimes your day job won’t provide the training you want, or you are thinking that you’d like to do something different, in which case volunteering is a great way to get that. I offered to do social media and marketing for my Tai Chi class and my choir (you don’t only have to volunteer with a charity), and learned a great deal in the process all of which can now go on my CV, with someone to provide a reference that I do have those skills.

It is your low risk way of trying out a different job market

Whether you’re just starting out in working life or want a career change, volunteering is a great way to test the market. You aren’t even limited to a single organisation. I knew a student who was volunteering with three different conservation organisations. Either way, one, two, three or more, it gives you an opportunity to try out the organisations that interest you to find out whether you would actually enjoy working for them. You’re testing them out as much as they are getting work out of you and if you don’t like them you can just leave.

It positions you perfectly should a vacancy arise

The organisation you are volunteering with will train you and get to know you and your abilities. If you already know someone, you know they work well with your team and do a good job, you are low risk, and they will be keen to employ you when a post comes up. You will also know a lot about the organisation and frequently about the job they are advertising, which gives you an automatic edge in interviews when a job does crop up.

It enhances your CV

Aside from all the additional skills you can add to your CV, most employers like to take on well rounded individuals and if you can show that you volunteer it will usually impress people and give a good first impression as you look like a switched on, engaged person who doesn’t just go home and slump in front of the TV but is out and about trying to make a difference.

Transition Town Kingston Volunteers and Activists

It helps you build your network

In a working world with very little job security networking is more important than ever and volunteering is a great way to meet new people and build relationships. If you volunteer in areas of interest to you, you will eventually meet all the key players in that field, especially if you become a trustee and get actively involved with your cause. An added bonus is that some of that network will also become friends and what could be better than that?

So get out and get volunteering, you’ll be amazed at how beneficial it can be for you and your career.

Do you volunteer or have volunteered in the past? What were the best aspects for you?

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