Careers Service Events and Placements Assistant, Mark Chadwick, examines where the value lies in volunteering.
Quite often, when we look through CVs here at the Careers Service, we find that loads of people (myself included) tuck all of their voluntary experience away at the very bottom of their CV. This can sometimes make brilliant and meaningful experiences come across as a bit of an afterthought, or something that we consciously or subconsciously don’t attach much value to.
Gaining valuable experience
Payment or contracts aren’t the only ways to signify value when it comes to the work we do. The skills we can develop or the experiences we are exposed to when volunteering are often just as good as, and sometimes even better, than those we develop through paid employment.
I once volunteered at my local museum in my holidays doing archiving and a research project. Being able to talk about the research skills I had acquired, as well as the opportunity to demonstrate my passion for history helped me get a place at university. My colleague Claire here at the Careers Service spent time volunteering at the Manchester Art Gallery as a student, and this helped her get her first job in the arts.
The communication and marketing skills you develop helping to run a charity campaign are no less valuable or dissimilar to the ones you would develop running a product campaign. The administrative experience you acquire helping to support the running of a charity is no less valid than those gained supporting the running of a business.
Having fun and making friends
Putting the benefits that volunteering can have on your career to the side for a minute, giving your time to help other people and making a difference is a worthwhile and gratifying end in itself. You can make great friends volunteering, and working for more selfless ends can give you a degree of fulfilment that is sometimes missing from paid work.
And, if nothing else, you can have great fun volunteering. I once volunteered for a start-up radio station presenting a current affairs show. It was rubbish, and no one listened (except my mum), but it was an absolute blast sounding off about the world and inflicting my music taste on the airwaves. Who knows what you might end up doing!
If you’re looking for great volunteering opportunities, be sure to come to the annual Goldsmiths Volunteering Fair from 11-2pm Wednesday 28th October in the Great Hall.