By Alex Hargreaves
Did you attend the Volunteers Fair at Nathan Campus on Wednesday this week? Still wondering if volunteer work is for you? Volunteering is a very popular way to put one’s time to good use in Australia. In 2014, approximately 5.8 million people (38%) donated some portion of their time to volunteer work (ABS, 2014). Why all the hype? What is so good about working for free? There are many good reasons to consider signing up for volunteer work if you can take money out of the equation.
One of the greatest things about volunteer work is the ‘feel good’ feeling that it brings. Who wouldn’t want to get the warm and fuzzies? When you spend a portion of your day working hard to bring others joy and success, this will undoubtedly give you a positive feeling and increase your own happiness as well as the happiness of those around you.
There are many different charities that you can chose to volunteer for. It’s a good idea to choose a charity that is raising money for a cause that you strongly believe in. For example, if you love animals, perhaps you could considering volunteering for the RSPCA or the The Animal Welfare League. If you know someone with a disability and want to do something to help, Sporting Wheelies or Able Australia are two charities to look into. Youth Off The Streets is a great charity to get involved with if you want to do something to help the homeless. For a full list of charities you can sign up for in Brisbane, check out Probono Australia or Go Volunteer.
Volunteering can also be a great way to gain some skills in the field you are studying. There may be a charity offering a position which is relevant to your degree. For example, for those studying PR/Communication/Marketing, there are often charities who are seeking motivated and talented students to ramp up their social media pages and increase public awareness of their charity. For those studying Exercise Science, many charity sporting events are often on the hunt for physio students to give sports massages to participants in active fundraising events. Event Management students are always in demand for volunteer work as charities routinely need to run events for fundraising. Not only will this be rewarding, but it will also give you a chance to put the knowledge and skills you have learnt in lectures into practice!
If you have been feeling a bit sedentary in the winter months, preferring to hole up on the couch in your PJ’s than get outside and be active, volunteer work may be the kick up the butt you need to change this! There are many volunteer positions which involve physical work. If you are good with kids, there are often charities are in need of sports coaches who can run around and teach children how to play various sports. Leaders for scouts and brownie clubs are also roles in high demand that require you to get up and moving. If you’re interested in events, pack up and pack down’s will certainly get your heart pumping!
If you have never had a job before and feel like you’re resume is emptier than a ravished jar of Nutella, volunteer work can be used to fill it up! Volunteer work looks great on your resume because it shows that you are proactive, you care about the needs of others, you’re involved in your local community and you have an understanding of social justice. Not to mention, if your volunteer jobs are done well, you can use a member of the charity as a reference. It’s a win-win.
There are some things you must consider before agreeing to volunteer. Just because you are not being paid, this does not mean you shouldn’t take your volunteer gig seriously. If you sign up for a weekly shift, the organization is depending on you to be there in order for things to run smoothly. Many charities require new volunteers to commit to a weekly shift for a period of three months to show their loyalty. After that, circumstances usually become more flexible. It is important that you take your shifts seriously and make sure committing is really something you want to and are able to do!
If you’re not ready for that kind of commitment, that’s okay too. There are lots of events that require volunteers as a one of. Some annual events which are examples of these include The Million Paws Walk, Bridge to Brisbane and Mother’s Day Classic. These events usually need volunteers for ticketing, pack up and pack down, re-hydration stations and photography. Once they are over, so is your time as a volunteer.
Put your wallet out of your mind and start thinking about getting involved with volunteer work! Many great opportunities will be posted on Careerboard and our social media channels this month.