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How volunteering can advance your career

Verb. Voluncareer – to work for an organisation without payment whilst acquiring relevant professional skills to advance your career.

How volunteering can advance your career

Do you like it? We made it up ourselves! Well, the word that is but the concept of ‘voluncareering’ is nothing new.

Competition in the workforce is tough. Job candidates now have to work harder than ever to differentiate themselves and attract the attention of employers.

Take for example Marijana. Marijana has always wanted to be a teacher. After applying for a Masters of Education at LaTrobe University and successfully passing the various admissions tests, Marijana discovered that applicants with experience working with children would be given preference over those without.

Marijana visited SEEK Volunteer and searched under ‘Education’. She was surprised to find so many opportunities to work with children in her area. One which caught her attention was working with Ardoch to support disadvantaged children.

After sitting a half hour interview and undergoing the relevant police and Working With Children checks, Marjiana was delighted to be accepted into two placements – one at a kindergarten and the other at a primary school.

“Working with Ardoch has been such a positive experience, not only for me personally but it has also been advantageous for my studies and career,’ says Marijana.

“I get so much hands-on experience working with children both in pre-school and primary school age, all the while confirming that teaching is definitely what I want to do with my life.

“Competition for teaching jobs can be tough so another positive about my work with Ardoch is that I have also got some solid references to call on for when I start apply for teaching jobs”.

Despite a heavy study load, Marijana says fitting in her work with Ardoch around her university commitments hasn’t been a problem.

“I think many people are reluctant to commit to volunteering because they think they don’t have the time, however in my experience with Ardoch, they have been extremely flexible. For example, if I have a teaching placement, I simply give them a bit of notice and they find a replacement – they have been more than accommodating if I can’t make work for any reason”.

So why not follow the lead of Marijana and many others to give yourself an edge over other applicants in a crowed job market? Benefits of ‘voluncareering’ include:

  • A chance to ‘try before you buy’ – work out if this is a field in which you could happily forge a career.
  • Help develop your professional skills and give you invaluable hands on experience using these skills in a chosen field.
  • Acquire additional transferrable skills such as adaptability and problem solving which will also be attractive to employers.
  • Strengthen your professional network including potential referees.
  • Help you stand out amongst other applicants. Volunteering in your chosen area puts words in to action, not only telling a prospective employer that you have ‘initiative, commitment and passion’ but demonstrating this through your actions.

Check out some of these categories that might have volunteer opportunities that could help you progress your career – Governance & Boards and other Skilled Volunteering.

For more expert advice on how to progress your career you can also visit Career Advice.