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Don’t have experience? Try volunteering

Student volunteers meeting on-campus
Volunteering can be a valuable way to gain experience.

It’s not only your degree that counts when trying to clinch a job.

Research by the online jobs website Seek found 95 per cent of employers rate volunteering positively.

Many said it was just as credible as paid work. So it’s a great way to boost your employability, particularly if you’re lacking professional experience.

According to Volunteer WA, each month around 315,000 hours are spent in volunteer activity around the State, worth around $39 billion.

But you don’t have to try to match that commitment personally. Many volunteer organisations now welcome flexible and micro volunteering.

Why volunteer?

Volunteering makes you an attractive candidate in the world of work, explains Michelle Moss from ECU’s Careers and Leadership Services Unit.

“It demonstrates that you’re a people person. Our volunteers spend a lot of time with individuals from diverse backgrounds,” she says.

“If you have this mix of working with people from different walks of life, that’s seen as a plus as it demonstrates flexibility. Volunteering really enhances your soft skills which is what future employers want.”

Micro volunteering – the new way to volunteer

Micro volunteering is about giving your time in a short amounts. The upside is you don’t have to commit every week to a set number of hours. This flexible approach is popular with both students and charities.

“Examples of these shorter volunteering opportunities can be something like a three-hour slot to undertake telephone checks on the elderly, or the vulnerable and those at risk,” Michelle says.

Students meeting at cafe
ECU’s Volunteer Hub connects students with volunteer opportunities.

How do you volunteer?

Many major job websites now include a ‘volunteer’ tab in their database. You can also search via reputable volunteering agencies such as Volunteering WA.

For ECU students, a ‘Volunteer Hub’ is available via the ECU website.

“This is where not-for-profit organisations and voluntary bodies can post their jobs. This site also offers tips and information on how to make the most out of volunteering,” explains Michelle.

“Our students also have access to the Volunteering WA online portal, which has lots of openings so it’s really easy to find something which suits you.”

Annual volunteering events

ECU organises structured volunteering events throughout the year specifically for students.

National Student Volunteer Week is a great platform to help the local community. Throughout the week ECU students take part in community events such as tree plantings.

Students can also volunteer with Homeless Connect, which brings businesses and community groups together to offer free services to help those experiencing homelessness.

Volunteers wanted: photographers, actors and more…

ECU’s ‘Volunteer Hub’ lists around 250 positions annually. Student Leadership Co-ordinator Krystle O’Donoghue says the roles are extremely varied.

“The Rugby League World Cup team were looking for volunteers to help manage games at the NIB stadium in Perth,” she says.

“We’ve also had volunteer photographers needed for the Fringe World Festival and St John Ambulance put out a call for volunteer actors.”

Student volunteering leads to permanent roles

For some, these opportunities can lead to permanent employment. Ashleigh Bray volunteered at the Smith Family which helps disadvantaged children through pioneering educational programs.

“I wanted to give back to the community. It was a charity which aligned to my values as every child deserves a good education, no matter their background,” Ashleigh says.

“My role was mainly administrative. I carried out a range of tasks in the office uploading and inputting data onto databases and client management systems.

“I learnt about protocols and procedures when dealing with vulnerable children and attended community meetings.”

“Saying ‘yes’ to every opportunity which came my way meant people knew I was pro-active and keen to learn.”

“I was offered a three-month contract to cover holiday leave which led to other continuous temporary work before eventually being offered a permanent role in their Midland office.”

“Now I’m a co-ordinator for the educational programs, working with schools, families and students. My volunteering journey was the key to securing this role so I’d definitely encourage others to do this.”

Find out more

If you’re an ECU student and interested in a volunteer opportunity, check out the Volunteer Hub.


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