Volunteering your precious free time to help worthy causes is a really noble undertaking. You won’t earn big bucks, but there are plenty of other ways that becoming a volunteer could be of value.
1. Learn new skills
No matter where you decide to volunteer, there will always be an element of training. While the skills may seem basic or trivial, they could be essential building blocks for future careers.
For example, if you’re collecting, organising, accounting for, and distributing donations from school fundraisers, you might be learning more than you think about finances, budgeting and inventory. Skills useful in almost all jobs including management, accounting, or running your own business.
Then there’s the other skills that you might not even realise you’re working on, like communication, teamwork, independence, problem solving, and customer service – the list goes on.
2. Give your resume a boost
If you have lots of part time or summer work experience on your resume that’s fantastic.
Got computer skills? Excellent.
But adding a few more lines will never hurt. Showing commitment to community efforts, or any kind of voluntary work, will speak volumes about your personality. If you’re happy to keep showing up without getting paid, you must be dedicated and motivated, all qualities that universities and future employers will look favourably on.
3. Make you stand out in admissions
Whether you’re applying to uni, TAFE, or looking for work, chances are you’ll be up against a lot of other applicants. Some might have a higher ATAR than you, some may have relevant work experience.
How will you stand out? Well, what you choose to do outside of the classroom could make all the difference. Volunteering is a great way to show you care about others and that you can manage your time well enough to balance a volunteer job with your other commitments.
4. Form connections and networking contacts
Volunteering could introduce you to people you wouldn’t have met otherwise. Those people could become friends, mentors, or your inspiration. The more you get involved with projects outside your school, the wider you’re casting your net.
You’ll end up with more contacts that could be helpful in providing you with paid holiday jobs, work experience, references, and even full-blown job offers.
If you already know what you want to study at uni, try finding volunteer opportunities in those areas. For example, if you’re interested in politics, see if you can volunteer with your local politician. There’s every chance your volunteer experience could help you in your future endeavours.
5. Personal development
When you’re at high school, chances are that you’re operating within a fairly limited social circle. You’ll be engaging with your family, school friends and teachers, possibly a few friends outside of school.
Volunteering will introduce you to new situations and people, potentially really different to what you’ve known up until now.
- Increase your confidence
- Learn to communicate more effectively with different audiences
- Become a better listener
- Learn about your personal strengths and weaknesses
- Be more aware of and active about social justice issues.
6. Positive impacts on your health
Studies have shown that volunteering could contribute to improved mental and physical health.
Increased physical activity, providing a sense of purpose, kicking goals, achieving good things, and focusing on other people’s problems rather than your own can create a “helper’s high”.
You could feel happier, less stressed and be fitter as well.
7. Feel great about yourself
So this is a bit cheeky, as it kind of ties in with number 6, but we felt it deserved its own spot.
When you volunteer, you’re not only benefiting yourself, you’re having a positive impact on lots of other people around you too. Potentially you’ll be helping an individual and an organisation, your community and subsequently you’re contributing to the wealth and health of a nation.
When you realise that your actions are so widespread, you might feel humbled and you should definitely feel proud of your contribution, it could definitely improve your self-esteem and feelings of self-worth.
Find a volunteering position that works for you
It’s ok if you’re not ready to commit yourself straight away. Start by having a look around your community, find out what the options are near you. See how much of commitment you’ll be asked to make, then decide if it’s something that you can fit in (and that you’d like to do).
Maybe you’d love to volunteer, but you can’t fit it in to your busy school term schedule. Why not see if there’s a way you can offer your help during the school holidays.