Blogs

Volunteering… it's good for you and your career

I had plenty to write about in job applications, could give real examples in interviews and actually landed my first job in marketing before I'd even graduated

In Australia over six million people volunteer each year. Volunteers tend to feel higher rates of satisfaction with their lives than non-volunteers and the benefits aren't just personal. You get more than just that ‘doing good' buzz. It can also help your career.

My volunteering days started when I was studying for my degree. I wanted to experience more than just sitting in a classroom and thought it would be a good way of finding some mates in my newly adopted city as well as boosting my CV.

I signed up to ‘give five hours of my time' to a homeless shelter. Then I volunteered to manage the media and marketing for a study event for school kids hosted by my university. This turned into helping with fundraising and generally putting my hand up to write flyers, coordinate events and recruit more volunteers for a variety of causes during my three year degree. I went on local radio, met some great people (two of whom invited me to stay with them in Sweden) and learnt a lot about myself. Actually, I think it was my volunteering escapades that led me to a career in marketing.

Volunteering while studying certainly didn't do my job hunting any harm either. I had plenty to write about in job applications, could give real examples in interviews and actually landed my first job in marketing before I'd even graduated.

Even today I still volunteer occasionally. I'm coordinator for my children's playgroup and used to be a home visitor for the Australian Red Cross.

Volunteering is a great way to develop new skills and get extra experience. Just because you're not paid doesn't make your accomplishments any less worthwhile. And it's a great way of getting training or trying out jobs you would like to do in the future. If you volunteer in a role related to your industry or a career you want to get into, chances are you'll meet people already working in that area – great networks for the future. Employers, too, are often interested in employees who've volunteered. It shows you're a team player and have initiative.

For me, volunteering gave me the skills to confidently apply for marketing roles despite not holding a business degree. TAFE NSW has plenty of volunteering opportunities for students and each college is deeply involved in their local community. Why not try it for yourself? After all, it is National Volunteer Week 2016.