‘Hi, I’m going into my first year at uni and thinking of doing some volunteer work but I’m not sure how I find out what types of opportunities are out there?’
James, first year Arts student, Sydney
It’s great that you want to volunteer! The first step is to think about what type of work you want to do, and why. Are you volunteering to develop new skills, gain experience or because you want to make a contribution to the community? Once you have decided what your main motivation is, then it will be a lot easier to begin your search for the right volunteer position.
There are many different volunteering opportunities available and they will vary in the time commitment required. You may want to volunteer for specific events, you might look for something that is ongoing, or you might even consider volunteering overseas.
If you already have somewhere in mind then start by looking at that organisation’s website. Remember, you don’t have to limit yourself to only advertised positions – if there is an organisation that interests you then it is OK to contact them directly.
Volunteering Australia is the peak body in Australia for all things volunteer. Their website has a range of resources to help you find out more about volunteering. In Australia, each state has an overarching body and they are a great starting point for information. They can provide you with local volunteer information and tell you if there is a volunteer resource centre in your local area. Another great place to start is Go Volunteer, a national website that enables you to search for opportunities by the area you live in. Alternatively, contact your municipal council as they will have information about local volunteer organisations.
The more effort you put in to volunteering, the more you will reap the benefits. Not only is it a fantastic way of gaining experience, but along the way you will develop new skills, expand your professional network and, above all, show employers that you have initiative. There are so many different volunteer positions out there and I have no doubt you will find the opportunity that is right for you!