Do Something for Nothing and Gain Heaps

Doing something for nothing? Why would you? Actually there are compelling career reasons for volunteering, as well as giving back to your community!  And it isn't just me banging on about it! Big players like SEEK agree.

SEEK, one of the largest online job sites in New Zealand, encourages job seekers to volunteer to stand out as individuals, says SEEK senior corporate account manager Merana Hawthorn.

“Employers put candidates who’ve been volunteering ahead of others
when everything else is equal.”

At a recent presentation at AUT, Merana encouraged students to sign up to SEEK Volunteer and get involved with interesting organisations or take up volunteering activities that would develop useful skills and networks. 

“Volunteering is a great way to overcome lack of experience if you are smart about your choice of volunteering,” says Mereana.

Volunteering opportunities

There are lots of sites, as well as SEEK Volunteer, that offer volunteering opportunities, including Volunteering Auckland. If you're doing the AUT Edge Award or Beyond AUT Award (and why wouldn't you if you want to gain employability skills?) you will find lots of requests for volunteers posted on our Edge Award Facebook page.

But volunteering is not just about gaining skills, it is also about building networks, learning more about yourself and giving back.

AUT Edge Award graduate Monique Van Veen volunteered to help run an annual youth development festival as part of the 50 hours volunteering she needed to do for the AUT Edge Award. As the festival drew closer, she ended up with responsibilities well outside her comfort zone.

“I found this hugely challenging … The only option I had to overcome this challenge was
to get ‘stuck in’ and just do it… try something new and learn from my mistakes as they inevitably happened."

Other award students have written with great enthusiasm about their volunteer learning experiences, including developing networks, gaining confidence, building communication skills and feeling useful.

Even the PM has volunteered

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says it was volunteering that set her on her path to Parliament and top level politics. Volunteering for a New Plymouth Labour MP one summer opened up “a raft of opportunities”, including paid work in Wellington, then a job in Helen Clark’s office.

The Primer Minister also found volunteering helped her get over her despondency when struggling to find work in New York.  
“I decided to volunteer in a soup kitchen and although I was earning nothing, it helped me feel whole again because I was doing something positive,” she explained.

7 great reasons to volunteer

Yes, it can be tiring, thankless work at times. Yet none of the volunteering I’ve done – sausage sizzles, mentoring, beach clean ups – have been bad for me. Rather it was informative, frustrating, fun, exciting. It led to meeting new people and making new friends and it has never been a bad experience! Montage of volunteer
So, the question again? Why do something for nothing and volunteer? Because it....

  1. introduces you to new people and communities and encourages you to communicate with a diverse range of people
  2. helps you build and expand networks that may open up job opportunities
  3. provides opportunities to ‘test’ or observe roles, organisations or industries you are curious about working in.
  4. opens up prospects to gain experience in areas you have theoretical knowledge
  5. provides a safe place to practice your current skills and often gain new skills.
  6. gives you a purpose in life at times when you may be feeling at sea, which then gives you more confidence
  7. encourages you to be a kinder human being by helping others/supporting a cause

By AUT Employability and Careers writer Angela McCarthy