Volunteering for Newbies – It’s Better Late Than Never

Volunteering for Newbies – It’s Better Late Than Never

By: Sabrina Azaria
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About two years ago, during my second year of university, a small part-time job opportunity came out in my area of residence. Though the pay was not so good, I decided to apply for it since a new experience wouldn’t hurt.  As I was preparing my resume and cover letter, however, I realized how inexperienced I was, not just in the field of work I was applying for, but other fields as well. I had no volunteer experience, no organizations to list being involved in, and no work experience that I could record.

At first, I was stressed and frustrated with my current situation. But after awhile, I realized that being frustrated wouldn’t solve anything. The only thing I could do was start from square one, and begin getting involved with clubs, groups, events, and organizations that I was interested. I thought volunteering would be a great way to start, not only to gain experience, but to be involved with my community as well. So I began volunteering for various organizations, groups which I have continued on with today. My efforts proved to be fruitful in the end.  Two years after all my stress and frustration, I now have substantial volunteer experience that I am proud of and can write on my resume.

If at this time you’re experiencing what I did two years ago, here is some friendly advice and some information about the things I did to start my volunteering career:

  • Start with what you’re interested in. If you’re still not sure of what you want to do, make volunteering be one of the ways in which you can discover what you like.  Figure out your major, recognize what you aspire to be, and the field or job you wish to dedicate yourself to in the future.  Here, you can find volunteering positions related to your own interests. When I first started volunteering, I was not really sure of what I was interested in. So I volunteered and dedicated my time to really  find out - from SFU student clubs to literary events to orientation and leadership programs - I tried a little bit of everything.   From this, I have realized that I enjoy working for magazines and non-profit organizations, and I can now focus my volunteer efforts toward a more specific field.
  • Don’t be afraid to get out of your comfort zone. When you’re still new to the volunteering world, it may be hard for you to actually start getting into it. It is definitely a new and different experience, and it might be a little scary.  But volunteering is also about stepping outside of your comfort zone, learning new things and gaining valuable experience. So don’t be scared to take that first step – it will be worth it in the end!
  • Motivate yourself! Once you get started volunteering, you still need to motivate yourself to keep doing it. It is easy to be lazy and stop working, especially when it’s not mandatory, but when you volunteer to work for places you are truly interested in, it’s not so hard to stay motivated!

Those are just a few of the things that you can keep in mind when you want to start volunteering. However, don’t forget to have fun and enjoy the ride – volunteering will be one of the most rewarding experiences in your life!

Sabrina Azaria is an undergraduate in Communications with a minor in Publishing and (hopefully) a certificate in Italian. She loves reading and traveling, and currently volunteers for the third Indonesian Film Festival in North America.

Posted on January 16, 2013