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Underestimating Volunteering

Volunteering is often underestimated in any line of work. Who would want to work but not get paid for it? Right? WRONG!

Although you may not get paid for the work you do, you may find an escape away from reality and something you love to dedicate your time to. Who knows? After a while of volunteering, you may even get offered a paid job eventually.

Just because it isn’t paid, doesn’t mean that it isn’t worth the time and effort if you put it in. What happens when you apply for a job and you have equal qualifications and experience to someone else? How do they decide who they want to give the job to? They look for a person who has something extra to add to the table.

A big example of this is volunteering, volunteering not only looks great on a CV but it also 1) gets you valuable experience and 2) Can become something you love and 3) Lead to you standing out to potential employees and maybe having the edge over someone else to be given the job in question.

I have had various enjoyable volunteering experiences. One thing I would say though is: when you decide you want to get into volunteering, apply for roles in which you have a genuine interest in, don’t simply apply because you want a volunteering role as you won’t enjoy it. If you take up a volunteering role and don’t enjoy it: quit it!

I suppose that is another plus to volunteering. When it comes to volunteering you can easily quit if you find you don’t enjoy it or that it doesn’t benefit you. Whereas if you apply for a job, you often have a contract with that employer so therefore if you don’t enjoy it you can’t just quit out of it as easily as you can with volunteering.

An issue that can be associated with volunteering is the distance in which you have to travel to get there. I learnt recently that whenever applying for a job or volunteer role it is crucial to research how to get there! Don’t just go by the city its in and say that will be fine as it might not! For example, I had an interview this week for a volunteer role with a big Scottish charity, Enable Scotland. Before applying, I didn’t look up how to get there, just assumed it would be easy since I knew it was in my city. WRONG!

I booked in the interview and then, that was when I looked up how to actually get there. To my shock I found I had to not only get a train but then get a bus followed by a 25 minute walk. If you are thinking of applying for a job or volunteer role and want to know how to get there, Google Maps directions is your best friend! – https://www.google.co.uk/maps/dir///@55.8247125,-4.3433119,13z

No matter what route I clicked on, they all involved me having to do a 25 minute walk! I also hate public transport – especially buses! With buses, you never know where to get off. I am that awkward person that feels embarrassed to ask the driver to let me know when he approaches my stop! Besides – I have had very bad experiences with rude & very unhelpful bus drivers. But that’s a story for another day!

The only reason I knew where to get off the bus, was because of a really noisy woman on my bus. She was talking to a guy and was telling him what street she lived at the back of which happened to be the street I had to get off at! So I literally got off the bus when she did then opened google maps.

Another problem that occurs when you don’t look up how to get to your interview beforehand is not planning enough travel time. This led me to having to run full speed without enough time to even go to the toilet. I ended up running at full force from University to the train station with about 5 minutes to spare to not only get my ticket but then board the train. Also, if it wasn’t for google maps directions I would of got lost. I ended up with my face glued to google maps on my phone, following a small arrow telling me what direction to walk in. I got to my interview, bright red face, sweating with about 1 minute to spare. Nope, not the best idea I had!

Volunteering can possibly lead to a job that you wouldn’t of stood a chance at without the experience gained through volunteering. For my graded unit earlier this year at college, I organized a Scotland wide Journalism competition with involvement from all colleges & Universities with a Journalism course in Scotland.

It was difficult work and at times I wanted to give up, but it was an enjoyable experience. It also gave me the chance to work with big companies such as the BBC, Scottish Sun & Daily Record whom I wouldn’t of had the chance to work with without this experience.

Volunteering can give you opportunities to further your career and work with people or companies you would have never dreamed possible. Volunteering also gives you the chance to shock yourself and go above and beyond to achieve something you wouldn’t of otherwise felt you could achieve.

Through volunteering I have made lifelong friends whom have changed my life for the better. While I was in high school, I volunteered for a school holiday program run by my local council. I got to work with children between Primary 1 and 3.

Through this involvement, I made a friend whom is now one of my best friends who is someone I can trust and makes my life better. Through this experience, I have also made many happy memories such as when kids would tell me they loved me or that I was their friend.

When I was coming to the end of high school, I originally was wanting to go into the childcare line of work, more specifically to train to become a nursery teacher. This volunteering experience gave me experience to make me stand out from the crowd and I came close to getting a placement on a childcare course thanks to this opportunity.

Unfortunately I got the place recalled at last minute because of a reference given by a teacher whom didn’t understand me. If it wasn’t for this volunteering experience, I wouldn’t of even got offered a conditional place in the first place!

Volunteering can also help you discover yourself, find who you truly are and help shape your career. For example, throughout high school, I had a community radio station based right outside my school, Pulse 98.4. This was a perfect chance to get involved with something that I had never experienced before.

In my mid high school years I got involved with the radio station, mainly involved with a program called “Schools out” which, you’ve guessed it, featured presenters whom were all still studying at school.

This was a great opportunity for me. At the time I was a quiet, kind of shy person. My involvement here, helped me to gain confidence in myself and who I was as a person. I then developed a love of radio. If it wasn’t for Pulse, I wouldn’t of discovered my love for radio, therefore I wouldn’t of considered Media as a possible career path.

When applying for college after leaving school, I picked Childcare as my main option, Media & Communications as my backup and Administration as an extra backup. I enjoyed Administration but didn’t exactly wish to pursue it as a career. Despite my teachers telling me I should pick Administration because it could get me a job, I wanted something with a little more excitement.

When Childcare fell through, I turned to Media & Communications as a backup. Three years after making that decision, I’ve left college with a HND Media & Communications and am now pursuing it further at University. I have discovered a love & passion for something I couldn’t of known I would learn to love this much.

I have met some truly amazing people whom I intend to keep in touch with for life. I have had amazing opportunities such as the Journalism competition, chances to pitch TV shows to the BBC and an abseil I did for small charity, CMV Action where I got to push myself and do something I’ve wanted to do for years in aid of charity.

If it wasn’t for the NC Media & Communications course followed by the HND Media & Communications course at college and the constant support & encouragement I received from my guidance lecturer and other lecturers while at college, I would not of had such opportunities or be pursuing a career I am in love with.

Through volunteering, you can make a HUGE difference to the lives of other people. A big example of this is the charity called CMV Action (http://cmvaction.org.uk/) The whole team who created the charity and run the charity are ALL volunteers affected by the CMV virus. They all dedicate their time to making the charity a success and raising as much money as possible for this fantastic cause.

Another example is companies that might not have enough staff & money to pay staff to run effectively. Another charity, Project Ability (http://www.project-ability.co.uk/) take on a lot of volunteers to help the smooth running of the charity. They have regular workshops for people with disabilities/mental illness where they have a handful of staff. Therefore they take on volunteers to assist the paid staff to ensure the individuals have all the necessary support crucial to their involvement with the workshops.

It just goes to show that volunteering can help set you up for your intended career, make you stand out from the crowd and make a huge different to the lives of others! I have supplied some links that you may find useful if interested in getting involved with more volunteer work:

Volunteer

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