I Volunteer a Definition of Benevolent Business
Life is busy as a student. Classes, homework, assignments, tests, exams, and ENDLESS studying (at least if you’re conscientious and ambitious). Then there’s the social life aspect: friends, parties, events, cinema, sports – you name it, there’s a good chance you’ll be doing it. On top of that: family time, commuting home, babysitting (I hope for money), arguing with your parents (because it’s just inevitable), and somehow managing to sleep for 16 hours straight. One needs at least 72 hours in a day to do all these. But, hey, have you ever thought about volunteering?
Volunteering is a combination of two elements: work and personal engagement. A volunteer is a person who offers to do a task or participate in a project (usually because they want to). That would be the personal bit. The said person is usually not paid to do the work. Now, don’t be discouraged by the non-payment bit: volunteering usually pays itself off through the invaluable experience you gain while doing it and the friendships you make along the way.
Some Benefits of Volunteering
If you’ve never been a volunteer, your student days are really the best time to do it. Time passes differently when you’re a student, and no matter how busy you are, you always have those few extra hours to do a good deed. And that’s what proper volunteering is all about: making the world a better place.
Consider some of these benefits of volunteering:
- It makes you happy. Seriously, the feeling of accomplishment is intense when you get engaged in a volunteering activity you like.
- It connects you with others. You’re never alone when you volunteer. Your team leaders, other participants, and people towards whom you’re directing your efforts will all bring something new into your life. You never know what may tie you together or where you’ll end up, but those friends you make when you volunteer are the ones you can count on no matter what.
- It can advance your career. Volunteering is a learning opportunity. Working in teams, facing challenges together, and sharing ideas and opinions are all beneficial to your personal development. Getting a job is not just about your test scores and diplomas but just as much about who you are as a person (otherwise, they wouldn’t be asking all those behavioural questions). Focused volunteering, i.e. working in your field, will also give you a chance to hone your skills informally. All good employers treasure volunteers because of this.
- Volunteering boosts your self-esteem. Whether you struggle with social anxiety or uncertainty about your abilities, volunteering will help you cope. People you’ll be working with will be invariably kind, understanding, and helpful, and even if you make mistakes or don’t cotton on as quickly, you can always ask for help. On the other hand, see those smiles you draw out when you volunteer – now that’s a real confidence boost.
- Being a volunteer will get you out of your comfort zone. It may not kick you down a cliff of discomfort (I did say people were kind), but you might find yourself doing things you didn’t think you were capable of. For example, I’ve seen people suddenly become fluent in foreign languages they claimed they couldn’t speak.
While you’re at it, you’ll make some of the best memories of your life.
How Can You Find Volunteering Opportunities?
Calls for volunteers are all over the place – you just have to know where to look. The first InfoPoint is usually your university. There are notice boards everywhere, many advertising various projects you can join. You can work on personal and interpersonal skills with Aiesec and travel and participate in various international projects. Aiesec is a student-focused organisation that does bring the benefit of travelling, but be careful when you apply for volunteering only to see the world – you might be surprised.
The Red Cross is always looking for new volunteers too. You can hone your presentation and persuasion skills by joining fundraising projects. On the other hand, if you’re a medical student, you can put your abilities to good use with healthcare-based projects. In contrast, if you know next to nothing about emergency care, the Red Cross provides detailed first-aid training and opportunities to provide help during any crisis.
Not sure what to do locally? No worries, VolunteerMatch can offer you a solution with online volunteering opportunities. From web development and online marketing to virtual dog training – whatever you might need is probably already looking for you.
What Kinds of Volunteer Work Can You Do?
There are many things you can do as a volunteer. The most important thing is that you’re doing a good deed. Calls for volunteers usually do not require strictly-designed skill sets, so the world is really your oyster in picking a type of engagement. For example, you can join many NGO organisations’ ambassadorship programs where you will be tasked with promoting their work.
Call your local library and see whether they need volunteers to read books to kids on weekends – you’ll make someone’s day and help raise a new generation of readers. Read about student festivals and organisations in your vicinity and lend a helping hand – I promise you’ll have a blast there. See if a public kitchen near you might need someone to cook or serve meals. Volunteer to help new students arriving at your university: show them around, help them with their administrative processes, or give them tips on how to survive those first weeks.
Not all volunteering needs to be organised. If you like jogging, download an app like Charity Miles, which turns your movement (walking, jogging, dancing) into money that is donated to a charity of your choice. Prefer to sit at home with a cosy blanket around you? Learn to knit and make hats, gloves, scarves, and blankets to donate to local hospitals, orphanages, or homeless shelters. Make small help bags containing basic hygiene and comfort items and hand them out to homeless people you see. There are many ways to volunteer; you just have to be willing to do it.
Nature Volunteering 🌿
If you’re as concerned about the future of our planet as we are, you can take part in nature volunteering, which is a way to give back to this little blue world. Nature volunteering is usually directed at reserves and spots that need conservation. Check out your local volunteering opportunities to start the good practice without contributing to massive CO2 emissions that would come from your travelling abroad. You’ll learn about tending various species of endangered plants, rebuilding animal habitats, and supporting locals.
If you’re interested in volunteering abroad, Volunteer World is one of the largest databases of international projects that you can filter by your skills, desired destination, or types of projects. Be careful though! Volunteering abroad is not meant to be a vacation for you! Do not even think about your online followership because then you’re becoming a voluntourist, which is never conducive to the host country where you’re applying.
Animal Shelter Volunteering 🐕
Another popular form of volunteering is working for your local animal shelter. And isn’t there anything better out there? You get to help poor abandoned animals find new homes. Sometimes that means giving them love and cuddles; other times, it includes detailed care, vet appointments, and screening potential adopters. Nevertheless, it’s a rewarding experience.
How About Becoming a Volunteer Firefighter? 🧑🚒
In case you didn’t know, a good part of any firefighting brigade is volunteers – and that is one heck of a commitment. If you’re looking for a serious opportunity, are ready to take responsibility, and are not afraid to face danger, you can apply to be a volunteer firefighter. Check out your local firefighting station and see if they have any vacancies. Make sure you fulfil the requirements (high school diploma, being of age, and driver’s licence are some of the common ones) and apply. You will be screened and offered a position. Be ready to undergo some gruelling training – after all, it’s not meant to be a picnic.
Volunteer for Others – Volunteer for Yourself
The core element of volunteering is the desire to help others, but the fact is that while doing so, you’ll be helping yourself too. You’ll gain valuable life skills that you can apply to a broad scope of situations. I’m sure your future employers will love you for that too. You’ll be happier and more confident overall.
Check out places like animal shelters, hospitals, or fire brigades around to find a spot that could use your help, or join an online volunteering project. Whatever you choose to do, you’ll be making the world a better place, and isn’t that what we’re here to do? 😊