5 May 2017

Volunteering: preparing you for the world of work

Volunteering can be considered an altruistic activity where an individual or a group provides services for no financial gain to benefit another person, group or organisation. This is just one of the many definitions for volunteering, but what does volunteering give back to you as a volunteer? Volunteering can provide you with incredible experience, and perhaps to your surprise, can also give you an edge when you’re applying for work once you graduate.

First of all, let’s talk about Job Smart. Job Smart is a unique program at the Business School, where you can develop hands-on, work-related skills while you study. The importance of programs like this for students, is due to the highly competitive environment that characterises the workplace today. It is no longer sufficient to rely on good grades to get a job. Companies and recruiters want to see more. It’s the proactive student that have been involved in extra-curricular activities that they will choose to interview. Alongside set activities, Job Smart also requires students to partake in a volunteer activity. I was involved in one of these opportunities when I commenced the program and was lucky enough to volunteer at the Mother’s Day Classic a Fun Run which raises funds and awareness for breast cancer research.

Being a part of the Mother’s Day Classic was a fantastic experience. A very early morning start of 5am was how we kicked off the day! As they say no pain no gain, and the early wake up alarm was ultimately worth.
All of the volunteers were given their duties, although they were not complicated to perform, the value of the services provided to the participating runners and event organisers were unbelievable. It was incredible to see how a simple action such offering a glass of water or banana could generate such high level of empathy and the feeling of giving back to the community. All the participants whether running or volunteering, were there for the same cause, to support cancer research and honour those who have battled the disease. The feeling of helping those people to support their cause, the thousands of sincere "thank yous" received, made it a meaningful contribution. I would recommend for this reason to seek involvement with a volunteering opportunity; it can help you understand that there are things in life that are important, for what sacrifices and support should be made, without looking for a monetary return. Volunteering not only provides you a sense of fulfilment but also adds value to your resume and career future.

In a world where concern regarding environmental, social and economic problems is on the rise, companies seek potential employees with a mind open to 360 degrees, they want people who are dedicated to give back to their community, even without the financial motivation. Overall volunteering gives you competitive edge through strengthening your transferable skills.
A volunteering experience enables you to develop and improve the fundamental skill of teamwork, essential in every workplace.  Volunteering at a large scale event means to work with hundreds of people, people that you meet on the day minutes before to start your role. Any nerves or shyness can be left at the door as good communication, problem solving skills and adaptability must be readily adopted, to ensure you are a valuable team member. Graduate recruiters and organisations recognise that volunteering is as credible as paid work and demonstrates admirable personality traits.

Being an international student myself it was great way for me to have the chance to integrate and support the local Sydney community where I’m living. It is a great feeling knowing that my volunteer experience will be advantageous on my resume and in a job interview  

Volunteering is a great way to add value to your success with any job application and can make all the difference to help make you stand out from the pack!

By Marco Poli, current Masters of Commerce student and Job Smart Ambassador at the University of Sydney Business School.

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