Volunteer work is when you do unpaid work for a community organisation or charity. It can be a good way to get experience. It’s also good to volunteer just for the sake of helping others.
Another benefit of volunteering is that it gives you the chance to meet people. You can build your network, which increases your chances of finding out about jobs.
Here are four steps you can take to find a volunteer position.
1. Think about the type of work you’d like to do
You might be considering volunteering as a way to get experience so you can get a paid job.
If this is the case, you should look for a volunteer position that will give you skills that match the paid job you’d like to get.
For example, if you’re aiming to get an office job doing administration, you could look for a volunteer position that will give you office experience. Visit our page of organisations seeking volunteers to find a position that could offer you this type of experience.
On the other hand, if you spend a lot of time indoors with study and work, you might decide you want a volunteer position that gets you outside, such as Conservation Volunteers Australia.
If you’re doing a university or TAFE course, or if you’ve recently graduated, you might want a volunteer position where you can use your professional skills.
For example, if you’re studying law, you could volunteer at a community legal centre.
2. Think about your values
There are all kinds of ways to volunteer. You should choose an organisation that matches your values.
For example, if you’re passionate about protecting wildlife, you might consider volunteering for Wildlife Victoria.
Or maybe you or someone in your family has been affected by an illness. You could volunteer for an organisation that supports research into finding a cure.
The main thing is to find an organisation that you’re excited about contributing to.
3. Think about how much time you have to volunteer
Before you contact an organisation about volunteering, make sure you have a clear idea of how much time you have to spare.
Be realistic. You don’t want to commit to a position for two days a week, and then realise that it’s going to be too much for you.
You should also think about the length of time you can volunteer. Some organisations might want you to volunteer for a minimum length of time, for example for six or 12 months.
Even if you don’t have a lot of time to volunteer, there are organisations that need help with short-term campaigns, or even just for a day for events held once a year.
The main thing is to decide how much time you can commit to contributing, and for how long.
4. Research volunteer organisations
Do some online searches to find out about the types of organisations you can volunteer for.
The Volunteering Victoria website lets you search for volunteer positions by keyword and location.
The Victorian Government runs a volunteering portal that you can use to search for the type of volunteer position you’re looking for.
SEEK Volunteer lists volunteer positions, and also includes information for volunteers.
Volunteering is different to unpaid work
Even if your motivation is to get experience and eventually find a paid position, remember that when you volunteer, the main benefit should be for your host organisation.
Volunteering is also different to other kinds of unpaid work such as:
- work experience
- unpaid internships
- student work placements,
These types of arrangements are done as part of your school, university or TAFE. They’re primarily to benefit you, to further your learning.
When you volunteer, the goal of your work is to help your host organisation.
Enjoy your volunteer experience
Once you’ve found the right position, make sure you enjoy your volunteer experience. Learn as much as you can about how you can help, and try to meet as many people as you can.
You can also ask the person who supervises you at your host organisation to be a referee when you go for jobs in the future.