Nkem Elizabeth Okolie and AdeLola Edema share their thoughts and experiences about volunteering. Let’s learn from them.
NKEM ELIZABETH OKOLIE
We need to clear the seeming misconception that volunteering is for a certain age, status and all the like.
Here is how I mean : It is not only fresh school leavers /undergrads that volunteering is for and or should think towards volunteering.
It’s a sure way to get back into the work force having been out of work for whatever reasons for a while too.
Anyone at any point in their lives can volunteer (when at the low of lows, no Job, no income etc, volunteering and getting an “allowance ” is a whole lot better than NOTHING at all, regardless of age and how far you had come in life and career before
“life happened”,lost job, resigned, etc). Any one CAN VOLUNTEER!
Someone’s “stipend/allowance” for volunteering is another person’s FULL MONTH’s salary for working everyday of the week plus Saturday somewhere else (Graduates oòo ).
It’s a clear case of “Start
with what /where you have or are “. Doing something while putting your skills to use is better than nothing at all.
I started my career, working with children with autism, as a volunteer. As a final year Education student, I was interested in special needs education; my major in school was Biology, so I had to find a way to at least start. The opportunity came as a volunteering job during an ASUU strike. The proprietoress was nice to me, so although I was volunteering “for free”, she gave me a stipend. As a volunteer, I resumed later and closed earlier than the members of staff at the center. On the job, I was exposed to a lot of training and I learnt a lot working there.
After school, I returned to Abuja where my parents were living at the time. There, I had the opportunity to volunteer at another center for children with special needs. Here, I was paid an allowance but it only covered my transport fare for the month. Notwithstanding, I worked as hard as their members of staff did. Eventually, when they needed to employ a full staff, I was considered first. Since then, I have moved higher and higher in this field.
My experience has made me a strong believer in volunteering. Someone told me that it is better to have your CV filled with relevant volunteering jobs than for it to be empty or full of irrelevant jobs; he could not have been more right. But usually when I advise friends who are unemployed after school to volunteer in an organization doing what they desire to do, they would always ask how they would get money for transport. I sincerely did not have an answer until I read Olanike Adebayo’s post in August about volunteering.
She advised that one could volunteer for two or three days in the week, taking two days off to look for the job you want. As I chatted with her later, it dawned on me that one could even spend those two days off or the weekends doing business.
Volunteering is a good way to establish yourself in a desired field as you are expected to learn from the experience. It gives you the leverage of having experience on your CV, which is what most prospective employers ask for. So instead of sitting at home doing nothing or just making ends meet, find a place on the career path you desire and volunteer there.
It can only get better.
Do you have thoughts and experiences about volunteering to share with us? You can leave a comment or send us an email.