“Do a job you love and you will never work a day in your life” – so goes the popular meme, and to a degree that is true. Doing a job you despise is not only soul-destroying and a waste of your time and effort, but can even be stressful and lead to poor health as a result. However, even for those who have landed their dream job, the most important factor in work for most people is getting paid! How many people would still do the ‘job they love’ if they weren’t getting paid for it? Probably not many, so why would anyone consider volunteering to work for nothing?
For some older people volunteering is a good way to make sure they get out of the house, meet people, and maintain a daily routine after retirement. However, the reasons to volunteer as a young person are often different and may be all about building a career and gaining some valuable work experience too.
Work experience is important, especially with employers saying that 80% of young people are not ready for the rigours of work. So, if you can’t or don’t want to commit to a paid part-time job volunteering may be the answer. As a volunteer, you work on your terms much more than as an employee, allowing you greater freedom to fit your volunteering around your studies and other commitments. Being able to gain valuable experience will not only build up your skills and confidence at work but, as a volunteer, you may also be using your time to genuinely make a real difference to others or in your local community.
Do a good job and you can use your volunteering work to get a positive reference when you go for your first paid job, as well as being able to point out your dedication and experience on your C.V. Of course, the closer your volunteering work is to your desired career goals the better, and it is here that another real strength of volunteering can be found.
The fact is, you don’t know what something is like until you try it, and so it is with work. Being accepted as a volunteer is often easier than landing a full-time job (obviously since the company doesn’t have to pay you). You may be able to get accepted as a volunteer in places that you may struggle to land a job without prior experience. Not only does this offer you the chance to really see if your dream job is all you thought it was, but also gives you the opportunity to make a few helpful contacts on the inside! Volunteering could actually help you land your dream job – work hard and impress and you may find that you are remembered when a paid position becomes available.
Of course, volunteering doesn’t just allow you to build up your confidence, job skills, and experience while improving your CV, but it also allows you to test the water in different roles and workplaces. Even where the jobs are the same, different workplaces can offer totally different experiences depending on the culture of the employer, whether large or small. You may even find that the career you hoped for was nothing like you imagined it to be, or perhaps end up finding a career that you would love to pursue.
Even if you have no idea what career you want, volunteering will teach you many transferable skills which you can take with you wherever you go.
Sure, without pay, volunteering can seem like you are literally working for nothing, but actually you are gaining skills and experience that could push you ahead of the crowd later on, besides, what else are you doing to progress your employability right now?