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.