It has been one year and a half since I became a Youth Red Cross volunteer although, as many peers, my interest in volunteering goes back to high school. I have been aware of social issues for all my life but didn’t know what to do myself. Little by little, I eased into volunteering during university.
Nowadays, there is only one thing I regret: to not undertake this work much earlier. There are thousands of reasons why every young should start volunteering in an NGO, community, enterprise, school, or any other kind of institution of their interest. So if you are considering to do any volunteering activity, I just have three words left to say…Let’s dive in!
Stop complaining, start doing. Complaints may make you feel better, but we all know it is not useful at all. Instead of complaining about how unfair is our world, be the change you want to see in the society. We all need good examples who practise what they preach. When you do this, you attract people who is willing to follow the example and take part.
Get to do what you love: traveling. Especially during summer, there are tons of opportunities to meet new places in your area or far away. For instance, you can attend events where you will get along with volunteers from other cities or even countries.
In addition, we did some small outings to the beach, the countryside, the farm, the cinema… When working with children, you get to visit some interesting places. I particularly remember our visit to the music academy. We had the chance to dance their music and to play different instruments.
Train your abilities and acquire new skills. Any great organization wants to take care of their workforce: the volunteers. Due to this, courses and workshops are offered to their volunteers, so they can develop those skills which are useful at the institution. For example, I wouldn’t have the chance to do a free first aid course if it wasn’t for volunteering. My advice here is take the chance on learning, always.
Get to know younger (and older) people than you. It is a fact: we tend to surround ourselves with friends from our school or university who are our age. But do you know the benefits of meeting people from other generations? It makes you flexible and updated, since you will be able to understand and adapt to different points of view, which are usually conditioned to the age. Who didn’t make a mistake and realised through years ? Who can give you better advice than the voice of experience? Just listen to the people who, same as you, do their best to change the world.
Furthermore, your mates usually come from different backgrounds, as there are not special requirements to join volunteering. Take advantage of it and always learn from them.
Just get a better life. I have already mentioned the learning opportunities you will get if you step into volunteering. One way or another, volunteering always become part of your professional career.
Personally, I got into a new job at a school due to my experience volunteering with children. Moreover, some volunteers even become employees after years of experience, turning something they love to do into their profession. Be sure you will have a perfect answer when you mention volunteering when asked about leadership or teamwork in you next job interview.
Please, note that all the content explained here is based on my personal experience volunteering at an international NGO. It may vary depending on the target you want to volunteer with and the institution of your choice.
In any case, ask for information in the institution you are interested in and speak with the volunteers. As you probably know, there are young offices where you can be provided with useful information to volunteer either in your community or abroad. If you are an European citizen, I strongly recommend you to take a look at Erasmus+ short exchanges, the European Volunteering Service and the European Solidarity Corps.