Gaining relevant experience or skills for a future career is one of the biggest benefits of volunteering. Students say that through their volunteering the skills they believe employers will value increase and so does their belief in their own abilities. However, sometimes it isn’t always easy to express what you’ve gained from your volunteering or understand how it might connect to your future career. Follow our tips to ensure that you will give yourself the best chance in that next application.
Take time to reflect
When essay deadlines are looming, you are part of a student society or working a part-time job and you’re volunteering it isn’t always easy to think about what you’re learning. Take time to reflect on your experiences and draw out the skills that you’ve gained from them. Here are some questions that might be useful to consider:
- What did I enjoy most?
- What did I learn about the cause that I was volunteering for?
- Which skills did I get a chance to practice?
- What do I know now that I didn’t before I started my volunteering opportunity?
- What did I find difficult? What would I do differently if I faced a similar situation again?
- What do I feel proud of most from my volunteering opportunity?
- Has anything surprised me? If so, what?
- Have I reached the goals I set myself with this opportunity?
There are many further questions that you could ask yourself, but by taking time to write some simple points down for a few of these questions will help you understand your development better. It will also give you some fantastic answers ready for future interviews.
Be concise and keep it relevant
If you answer all of the questions above then you’ll probably have a lot that you want to pack in to any application form. However, it’s important that you keep it concise, relevant and give clear examples. Ensuring that the skills and experiences that you add to your CV match with the ones that the employer is looking for in the role that your applying for is essential.
Be passionate about your volunteering
Employers are looking for people that are both suited for the role that they’ve applied for but also have a wide range of interests. You should be proud of your personal development and the impact that you’ve made with your volunteering. Showing that in your interview can be really powerful. It demonstrates that you care about society and you’re prepared to go above and beyond to achieve your goals. It can also help build rapport with the interviewer.
Ask your volunteer manager to be your referee
Volunteer managers can make fantastic referees as they’ll have seen you showcase some of your best work. It’s normally best to have volunteered with the organisation for a reasonable amount of time and committed to regular hours (a one-off opportunity wouldn’t be appropriate). Ask your volunteer manager for regular feedback and skills development opportunities as well. If they have experience of the sector that you are trying to get in to then they will be able to offer some excellent advice.
This post originally appeared on the LSE Careers blog.