Keen to get some experience outside of your study but struggling to work out how to do it?
“Volunteering is one way to do this – it gives organisations and students the chance to connect and learn about each other - and is something that employers look upon extremely positively because it helps students build skills and contacts while giving back in these uncertain times,” says AUT Employability Relationship Manager Alex Booth.
Volunteering has had a huge impact on the life of AUT psychology graduate Aafreen Kalani (right) who says volunteering, combined with her psychology study, helped her find a new career path.
Now a part time case worker at Shakti, Aafreen says she has been able to take on this role because of the new confidence she gained through her volunteering. It was also through volunteering that she found her passion for helping disadvantaged minority women.
“I learned a lot and volunteering gave me the extra push as an international student to learn and understand New Zealand culture. It also helped me develop better communication skills and learn how to deal with people and be independent here.”
As a newcomer to New Zealand, Aafreen says she was initially lacking in confidence.
“But through volunteering I developed a lot of self-awareness and confidence because it gave me the opportunity to go out and prove that I am good enough to do it. That was very powerful.”
For AUT accounting student, Nethra Sangar (below left), volunteering showed her how small actions can make a big difference to people who are underprivileged.“I get such a feeling of satisfaction and achievement from volunteering and have gained confidence, people skills and more empathy.”
Nethra volunteered for several organisations for the AUT Edge Award, including Red Cross, Cancer Society and Sunday Blessings.
“I volunteered for many organisations because it helped me network and have a good exposure to the outside world. It also taught me that charity can be done in many ways depending on the need.”
She found Sunday Blessings – an organisation that feeds homeless people – a challenge initially because she was unsure how risky it would be and how people would react to her and how she should behave towards them.
“But then I realised I’m part of an organisation where there are other hesitant people like me, and it was great to help and make a difference.”
In the current post Covid 19 climate, volunteering is more valuable than ever, states Alex.
“It opens doors in so many ways - new contacts, building skills, experience on your CV, making friends, trying new jobs/organisations, the feel-good factor of giving back, having fun and even – potentially – employment!”
This Wednesday 12 August all AUT students will have the opportunity to meet up with and find out more about volunteering. Fifteen different charities and not-for-profit organisations will be on campus looking for volunteers for the Semester 2 Volunteering Expo. These entities cover a range of support from feeding the homeless, to charity fund raising, helping improve the environment, supporting people who are disadvantaged and supporting community events.
“Many students don’t know how to access volunteering or where to begin- the Volunteering Expo removes this barrier and gives organisations and students the chance to connect and learn about each other. Meeting so many organisations face-to-face is also more valuable than spending hours scrolling the Internet, trying to find the right opportunity,” says Alex.
You can sign up now through Elabonline. Not used Elabonline before? It's easy - just click on 'Current Student', put your AUT name and password, and you're ready to access everything you need.