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Careers Advice

Volunteering Does Work

If you haven't considered volunteering, you really, really should. There are so many reasons to volunteer.

Learn about an organization
By becoming a volunteer at an organization you are allowed to see the internal workings of an organization. You can see how things work there, the organizational culture, and the interpersonal interactions. Usually within a few days you will have a good idea what attitude your co-workers have towards the organization, and this is very telling. If the members of an organization are not enthusiastic about the place they work, it probably is not the sort of place you want to be. Wouldn't you rather find this out before you beat off competition to get a job there?

Find out if you are suited to a development career
Volunteering allows you to try out development work to see whether it's something you are interested in. True, you may not be given the most challenging and fun roles around, but you can easily see what other people's jobs' involve and by talking to them, the realities of a career in development. Bear in mind that you are only experiencing the roles, attitudes and stories of one organization - if it seems terrible, that may be unique to this organization and vice versa.

Networking opportunities
For some, networking is a necessary chore, but the great thing about volunteering is that you are building your network without even trying. Every time you interact with a colleague or meet a new person you are building your network!

Create a job opportunity for yourself
In so many development organizations, particularly non-profits, there is such a shortage of manpower your work may become so invaluable that they are willing to create a paid position to keep you! Sometimes you will be first offered a small remuneration (stipend) to keep you, but as time goes on, you may be able to negotiate further increases, until you have a full-salaried position.

Snap up any openings
Due to the informal nature of non-profits, hiring processes are often done internally. From seeing your work, you are already a known factor to the hirers, and close at hand and instantly available. Assuming you have done well with your voluntary work, all this makes you a very attractive option to fill any new vacancy!

Gain experience
There is no better way of gaining experience than learning on the job. Almost every job in development requires X number of years of experience. By volunteering, you are starting along the road of gaining that experience.

Gain new skills
Not only will you be practising your existing skills, you will be coming into contact with new situations, requiring new skills. While this may be difficult at first, developing new skills set

Identify your weak points
If there are tasks you struggle at, you can mark these down as areas you need to gain knowledge in or develop new skills for.

Strengthen your CV
With all those benefits, you have a great opportunity to increase your marketability. On top of that, being a volunteer shows that you have a degree of commitment that is often very valued.

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