For years, charities across the globe have been encouraging students to join their volunteering programmes to help make a difference in the world. Volunteers are an integral part of any charitable organization; without them, there would be no charity. Not only can volunteering benefit a wealth of causes, but it can also boost a student’s prospects once they head out into the working world. Here’s a look into how volunteering can benefit a student’s future:
Volunteering can be a humbling experience, allowing you to see the world in a different way. Whether you agree to volunteer for a number of consecutive months or a day a week, the impact you have could be life-changing. There’s also a strong sense of achievement and pride that comes with generously giving up your time for a worthy cause.
Students are a key demographic for many voluntary schemes because they have a lot of free hours outside of term time to commit to helping out. Of course, fundraising is an extremely important part of any charity, particularly those without government funding who rely on donations. However, those with more time than money to give, such as students, can still make a difference.
When it comes to volunteering, there are countless opportunities at home or away. Many students choose to volunteer abroad to experience a new culture and learn more about other countries. Popular places with an abundance of culture that often recruit volunteers are the likes of Cambodia, Ghana, India, Kenya, and Tanzania.
In these places, volunteers will often be tasked with helping to teach children, support hospitals, build schools or animal conservation.
It can be a wonderful way to experience another country, with support and guidance during the stay from the organizations. Volunteering overseas involves more group-based work than volunteering at home. It also gives students the opportunity to get away from studies and work responsibilities.
At home, opportunities are likely to be helping with youth clubs, childcare support, medical support or charity shops. Working for a cause while at home will allow for flexibility around a student’s timetable, they may be able to give up some of their spare time at the weekend or a few hours in the evening.
On the other hand, volunteering abroad is often over a period of a month or two, meaning that you need to have a significant amount of free time available. Sometimes the volunteering programme goes so well that the student doesn’t want to return!
Plenty of people have left their jobs to help organizations around the world, in which case they need to apply for Visas specific to the country. For example, those volunteering in the UK who want to stay need to apply for British citizenship.
Alternatively, for many countries, a volunteer might need to apply for British citizenship. There are a number of organizations who are always looking for volunteers, and they’ll be able to assist with this process. Both are worthwhile ways of giving back to the community, it’s completely up to the individual as to which they would prefer.
It may seem obvious, but the rewarding aspect of volunteering is why so many are drawn to it. First and foremost, volunteering should be about helping those in need. However, there’s no denying the personally satisfying benefits of dedicating your time to volunteer.
It’s an extremely rewarding experience, and students may even find themselves putting their own problems into perspective. This is particularly the case when students decide to go abroad and work for a cause. The process of learning about different cultures and how other people live day-to-day can be eye-opening.
It can be easy to get consumed in your day-to-day life, particularly as a student with pressures of deadlines and studying for exams. Volunteering can be an escape from the daily routine, allowing to make a difference while also getting away from studies for a much-needed break.
When researching the best program to get involved in, students have the opportunity to look into each organization’s mission statement and find the one that most falls in line with what volunteering means to them. They should take the time to consider what it is that they are really passionate about, and how it could bring about change.
Where possible, it can be beneficial for students to search for roles in their field. It can be one of the best ways to truly gain some hands-on experience in their desired industry. Even skills that may be considered unrelated to an industry can still hold value as life-skills, or transferable skills.
For example, volunteering can help you to build leadership skills, especially if you’re responsible for a group of people. Leadership is a wonderful skill to have, and it’s also transferable to many different job roles. In fact, 51% of recent graduates under 30 who are currently in employment have stated that volunteering helped them to secure their position.
Student volunteers are able to make a significant contribution to a charity. Not least because of their determination and enthusiasm. They are also helpful in spreading the word about charity and building awareness of what they do. Most students know their way around social media better than anyone, by taking pictures and allowing their friends to follow the progress of their charity work, they are also helping to build awareness. Future employers who nowadays often look at an employee’s social media profile will be pleased to see their hard work.
Volunteering can be an excellent way for a student to get their foot in the door and meet new people. Though networking may not necessarily be the first thing that comes to mind when people decide to work for a cause, it is an amazing perk. Organizations, whether at home or abroad, can bring together people from all walks of life.
No matter what your background or experience, you’re all in one place to achieve a shared goal; better the lives of those that the charities support. You’ll be able to build relationships with everyone there, and you may even find that this networking could impact your future career.
Deviating from the curriculum isn’t an option for most students, and intense studies may mean that they’re missing out on a great deal of social interaction as well the chance to pick up new hobbies. In some ways, volunteering can be a way for students to explore other interests they may not have otherwise had the chance to.
This could even lead to an alteration in career! Whether it’s nature conservation at a local wildlife trust, working at an old people’s home or helping children grow organic vegetables at a local school, exploring other interests could bring about change.
Among everything else that volunteering can offer, it’s an amazing way to prepare for work opportunities in the future. Having real-life experience can enhance a student’s education outside of the classroom. Stating on a CV that they’ve taken part in different programmes can give any future employers an insight into the kind of person a student is away from work.
In some respects, volunteer work experience can be just as important to an employer as qualifications. Many employers are interested in how well a person will fit in with the team at work personality wise, not just whether they are qualified for the job.
Furthermore, as previously mentioned, volunteering can allow a student to develop skills. This is especially useful if those skills are relevant to their chosen industry. They’ll be one step ahead when it comes to entering the workplace, already equipped with some of the key skills needed for the job role. Environmental sciences, teaching, and childcare organizations are always keen to take on new employees who are dedicated to the cause.
There are plenty of ways to get involved as a student volunteer to make a difference. If you’re a student interested in volunteering at home, then research the types of organizations in your area that you may be able to help. It might be a local charity shop that is looking for staff at weekends or a children’s hospice who want someone to read to the children once a week, either way, there are bound to be countless opportunities closer to home thank you think.
Alternatively, you might be interested in volunteering abroad. A quick search online will bring back plenty of organizations whose sole aim is to match people up with a cause they care about. Across the world, there are hundreds of volunteering programmes who are looking for student volunteers.
Be sure to check the background of any company you’re inquiring with, and read reviews left from previous volunteers who have gone on expeditions. This should give you a better understanding of what the company does, while also reassuring you that they are a legitimate business.
Natalie Wilson is a freelance writer in the travel niche and can provide advice on anything from packing essentials to hidden gems. When not writing, Natalie can be found reading a good book with a cup of tea or planning her next travel destination. You can connect with her on Twitter @NatWilson976
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