Volunteering

What is volunteering?

A volunteer is a person who freely undertakes an activity:

  • That is chosen either by themselves or by a group they are a member of
  • That provides a benefit to a community or another person
  • There is no purpose or intention of private financial profit

(From the Volunteering NZ website)

Benefits of voluntary work experience

  • Consolidates and enhances academic learning
  • Helps develop transferable skills such as teamwork and leadership
  • Enables you to learn more about a particular field/job/employer
  • Demonstrates your willingness to give your time in order to learn valuable skills
  • Builds knowledge and experience of the world of work
  • Provides experience for inclusion in CV and job applications
  • Gives you a chance to find out what kind of work you like and don't like
  • Builds a network of contacts
  • Builds character, maturity and confidence

What makes a good placement?

Your voluntary work experience should provide course or career-related duties and tasks that are at, or slightly above, your skill level. Ideally, there will be a structured programme, with committed resources and an assigned supervisor or mentor.

When considering a placement, check out:

  • What knowledge and skills can I expect to learn?
  • What responsibilities will I have?
  • Who will supervise and evaluate my work and how will they do this?
  • Who will set my schedule?
  • What training and support will I have?

How to make the most of your voluntary work experience

Maximise your learning from the experience by:

  • Seeking opportunities to get involved and learn
  • Talking to colleagues about their roles and experience
  • Maintaining a 'placement diary' and recording what you're doing and learning

When the placement ends, ask your manager or supervisor to act as a referee for your future job applications. Make a note of their contact details.

It is important to spend some time reflecting on how the placement went – what did you learn, how has this affected your career plans.