Volunteering is a great way to gain experience, especially if you’ve been out of the workforce for a while or are looking to get established in a new area. Here are five benefits to be gained from volunteering and five lessons I learnt from interning. I recently completed a Bachelor of Business Studies last year including an internship, or practicum, for a sports event company. My study also involved volunteering for different sports clubs. The experience was valuable – not just for my specific field of study but also as a general volunteering experience.
5 Benefits of Volunteering:
- Gain skills – volunteering is a great way to gain skills, especially if you’ve been out of the workforce for a while.
- Gain contacts – volunteering is a perfect way to get into new situations where you can meet new people. Networking is important and relationships are often key: key to getting things done and key to being social and feeling connected with life.
- Gain confidence – being part of a role where you’re responsible for seeing tasks through, even if they’re out of your experience, is a great way to gain confidence and belief in yourself.
- Gain desirable habits – having responsibility in a position is a good way to develop habits useful for the workforce or for life.
- Feel productive and connected – volunteering is a good way to get things done as part of a role and a team, and feel great for achieving a goal together.
If you’d like to find volunteer opportunities, there’re resources online such as VolunteerNet which can connect you with volunteer positions in events, or local Volunteer Societies which find volunteer positions to match your skills or desired opportunities. Alternatively if you have an interest or local organisation you’d like to support you could try reaching out and offering to assist them. Many societies or charities are in desperate need of help, but are unsure of how to engage with people to find help, so may very well welcome you warmly and be very appreciative for your help.
5 Lessons Learnt being an Intern:
More specific to my own experience, I found getting away from the books of studying and out from the four walls of my house and into the field of work-experience taught me some valuable lessons.
- It’s important to build momentum – the more you do something the easier it becomes to continue doing it. Feeling a certain way, saying a certain phrase, doing a task – I find they often become easier to continue doing them the more often I do them in the first place. As people want to be consistent internally.
- Work ethic is a skill – to be able to sit with a task until completion is a developed skill. This is something which sunk in with me when there’s a boss watching over me – as studying at home, like I was, I found it easy to only be half-engaged in any one thing, such as switching attention between writing a report and checking social media and moving things around the room, and not push work through to completion. Plus, it’s an important skill in life to be able to get things done even when you don’t feel like it
- Relationships are important – it’s the human interaction that underlies everything. This is especially the case in my area I studied of sports events as having relationships with the decision making people in an organisation is powerful for things such as sports sponsorship.
- There’s a difference between how things are done vs how things are meant to be done – university favours theories and models. But some things can’t be taught well by fitting into a theory or model. As annoying as it is that everything can’t be learnt and prepared for in advance, real-world experience is invaluable in learning how to accomplish results.
- Confidence beats theory – as I figured out, what people are taught to do from study isn’t always the way things are done in the real world, nor even the best way to do things in the real world. I observed multiple times that someone having confidence in an idea often manages to override that the idea may be bad.
Max is the Father of two young children, a small business owner, and a student studying a Bachelor of Business Studies at Massey University. He also writes online at obstaclemethod.movementunleashed.com