Welcome to the first thursday of the year and hope it brings you closer to your dreams.
Why should I volunteer?
Two years ago, Babs graduated from the University of Lagos, department of Microbiology, at the age of 22. Finishing with a second class upper degree of 4.48, he was sure that the jobs would definitely not be far from him. Two years down the line, he is still job hunting. According to him, the firms don’t know what they want. “How can they expect him to have a work experience of 5 years? Where would he get it from? Or better still, where do they expect him to get it from if they do not employ him?” He asks himself as he ends yet another day of job searching. Now he has decided that he would further his education by going for his Masters, so that his chances of being employed would at least increase.
Eniola, 24, a graduate from the same university and same department, she finished with a 3.50. Also a second class upper division but not as strong as Babs. While she was in school, she accumulated a lot of work experience by volunteering for organisations like United Nations, W.H.O. During her holidays when there was no volunteer job to do, she worked as a sales rep for Konga, some other holidays she worked in the Foods Crosscheck point of a registered company, Taste Royale Confectionaries, even though it was owned by her friend, she rose through the ranks from being just an evaluator to the chief evaluator. All positions were either not paid for or just paid for with stipends. Two months after her NYSC, she was able to get a job as an intern in a reputable laboratory. She rose to the level of paid employment (full staff) and from there the promotions have been steady. Two years later, she has gotten very good at her job. “The pay is very good” she tells you. “And I am considering going for my Master’s degree next year”.
Most times students and even graduates run away from volunteering because they can’t just understand why they would work for free for anybody most especially when they come from very privileged homes. But volunteering is not just about working for free, it is about self-improvement and about having a lot of things done to your credit. It is about learning more than you earn. It is okay if you however found a talent which you honed so well and were able to get paid a lot for doing, but what about those who aren’t that lucky. Note the difference between Eniola and Babs. The bitter truth is that even if Babs gets his Masters degree, he may not be able to land a very good job or he may simply just get employed at Entry level, a level Eniola left two years ago and that is because he has no single work experience.
Organizations that look for work experience want a re-assurance about the kind of person you are and the only way they would get it is by looking at your level of commitment to projects you assign to yourself or projects assigned to you. The sales company for instance want to see that “oh Tobi started working at McDonalds as a volunteer sales man who worked shifts while he was at his 2nd year of school and he rose steadily through the ranks to becoming sales director when he was in his final year while still maintaining a G.P.A of 4.0/5.0” That speaks a lot about the kind of person Tobi is. It tells them he is focused, has great time management skills and can handle a leadership position without so much supervision. It tells them that he was not paid so much, yet he excelled at both work and school, how much more when the big chunks of money start to role in. Nowadays, companies do not just employ people because of their grades but they want to know how positively you would influence workflow.
To get a clearer view on the subject, let’s define volunteering.
According to Wikipedia, volunteering is an altruistic activity where an individual provides services for no financial gain and it is renowned for skill development. Volunteering is also intended to make contacts for possible employment.
The benefits of volunteering include:
But first, before starting to volunteer, it is important to ask yourself:
What do I love doing?
How can my talents be useful to this company I want to volunteer for?
How can I manage my time so I don’t get choked up?
What are my goals and objectives i.e what do I want to gain from this volunteering experience?
How would volunteering for this company build/enhance my career?
When you volunteer, there is a lesser risk of you having to change careers late in life because you would have been able to decide what you want to pursue, career wise, and what kind of personal brand you would like to build. While volunteering, it is important for you to stand out, stay connected, build relationships, be passionate and learn more about the company but at the same time it is also important that you don’t lose sight of the main reason for your being in school, which is your degree. You are first a student before a volunteer.
There is a time to learn more than you earn…use that time well.
Remember the best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.