Volunteering in the Summer,
Employment in the Future.
One of the most common things for students to do over the three long months of summer is to have an ‘internship’. Thus, how different is volunteering in an institution different from pursuing a summer internship? To volunteer is most commonly understood as a service provided by an individual or group for no financial gain.
A few researches have been conducted, with one showing that 22% of volunteers succeeded in getting paid work and another showing that unemployed individuals who volunteer between 20 to 100 hours over the span of 12 months are 6.8% more likely to be employed compared to individuals who did not volunteer.
Hence, how does volunteering enhance one’s employability?
Correlation Between Volunteering and Employability.
For starters, a person who volunteers is commonly seen as someone who looks beyond the pecuniary benefits of providing a service. Nancy Collamer wrote in an article which states that employers look highly upon, and hence are more likely to hire, people who can demonstrate that they are motivated to work for a cause, especially if they are not getting paid for their efforts.An employer would most commonly want an employee who would work for the benefit and the motive of the company, rather only work when there are benefits to be gained. The employee’s motivation in his/her work acts as an assurance for the employer that said employee can be relied on when a task or project is to be completed. A motivated employee would not only be able to complete tasks assigned wholeheartedly, but they are also in a position to motivate other employees, displaying valuable leadership abilities, resulting in an enhancement of job promotion opportunities.
As a volunteering institution is most likely a non-profit organisation, it is hence common to have a services provided at a very minimal cost, if not free. Compared to profit-making organisations that will most likely charge a service or consultation fee, the ‘customers’ of a non-profit organisation would most likely come from a wider social class. A volunteer would therefore have a better understanding of the needs of the community, rather than being shielded by the profit maximising objectives of firms. An applicant with in depth understanding of a matter, obtained through volunteering, would stand out compared to other applicants who’s understanding is based on hypothetical situations or theoretical knowledge. Rannard, further and higher education senior management at Volunteering England, said urged higher educational establishments in the UK to ensure that they produce ‘ready-to-work graduates’. She stressed that a combination of academic skills and practical application experiences, which can easily be obtained through volunteering, are vital.
Furthermore, it is commonly presumed that a volunteer is one who took the initiative to provide a service for a cause that he/she genuinely believes in. In most volunteering institutions, volunteers will be given insights on what else could be done for the cause to be better served. When being compared to a passive equivalent, the volunteer would stand out based on his/her commercial awareness, on how the company can benefit its stakeholders without neglecting their profit maximising objective. In today’s competitive market, the reputation of a company is very much reliant on its consumers’ view of it. Hence, a company’s reputation will be boosted if it shows that the company can show that the revenue generated through sales are used for a community-oriented cause, rather than being seen as a profit-making machine. An employee with volunteering experience would know the needs of the community and how a corporate firm can attend to them, therefore allowing the firm to boost its public image and credibility.
Based on these findings, it is imperative for students, whilst excelling in their academics, to find volunteering opportunities. It is nonetheless significant, at the same time, for students to volunteer for a cause that they genuinely believe in. Volunteering in a random institution without genuine interest can potentially reflect on a mediocre reference from the head of the volunteering institution, which might not assist said student in achieving the results as discussed above.
Here is a non-exhaustive list of institutions that students, both in the United Kingdom and Malaysia, can enroll themselves into:
Raise and Give (RAG) Society
Student-run charitable fundraising organisation which aims to fundraise and support charities on a local, national and even international basis. Most UK universities would have established a RAG society, thus easily accessible for students studying here.
Amnesty International UK is a worldwide charity focusing on standing up for human rights. Volunteers are able to take up different roles such as campaigning, marketing, media or general support. Most Universities do have their own Amnesty International club to help fundraise
Unicef is one of the world’s leading organisation working for children in danger. They provide volunteering opportunities for campaigning or fundraising.
Barnardo’s is one of the biggest children’s charity in the UK. They opportunities provided for university students range from setting up a Barnardo’s University Society, to volunteering in their shops and offices, as well as the leeway to come up with project ideas for the organisation.
GreenPeace is a non-governmental environmental organization passionate about protecting the Earth. Their vision is to transform the world by fundamentally changing the perspective of others. They provide a wide range of voluntary opportunities such as administrative tasks, mail outs, data entry, data analysis, translations, design and editing, research projects, painting and many more.
Women’s Aid Organisation (WAO)
WAO is a non-profit organisation that provides counselling and shelter for abused women and their children. At the same time, they also lobby for law reforms in the national parliament for women’s rights.
Oasis place is one of Malaysia’s largest intervention centre. They provide both volunteering opportunities and internships. Students will be able to experience working in a special need community and also expose to what Psychologists, Speech and Language Therapists and Occupational Therapists do.
WWF is a national conservation trust, promoting the harmonisation between human beings and nature. The volunteering scheme in WWF aims at fund-raising and building awareness of their campaign and programmes.
MERCY Malaysia focuses on providing medical relief, sustainable health-related development and risk reduction activities for vulnerable communities, in both crisis and non-crisis situation. Volunteering in MERCY Malaysia allow volunteers to be trained and then be deployed domestically to complete their ‘mission’.
CHANTAL LEANN BARNABAS