Definition of Volunteering
The dictionary definition for volunteering is to “freely offer to do something” or “work for an organization without being paid”. Wikipedia defines as “a voluntary act of an individual or group freely giving time and labour for community service”. According to GoVounteer.com.au, “volunteering is time willingly given for the common good and without financial gain.”
The common elements with these definitions are time and labour willingly given without any expectation of monetary or material payment in return. This means people have various reasons for volunteering for common goods. Some of these reasons includes,
- People’s high value proportion on certain issues or problems in the community. If an individual values kids’ education in rural communities, he or she may volunteer to teach in a rural school, involve in rural community school project and etc.
- Hobbies or passion. People who love outdoor and travel might consider volunteering in different communities or places to experience culture, travel, and contribute to a common course. For example, natural environment conservation project.
- In cases of emergencies and disasters when specialized skills are needed. Example, in the event of an earthquake or natural disasters. People, will volunteer in all shorts of activities where their skills and expertise are needed.
Why Students Should Volunteer ?
When it comes to student volunteering, the common elements of volunteering are against them. First is time. Student life a highly routinized life. In most cases, students operate on tight schedules. Classes to attend, assessments to complete, chores to attend to in the living quarters and lots of events happening on campus organized by different groups. They feel, there is no time to do any volunteer work while being a student at the same time. Particularly for those living on campus, away from parents and relatives.
Second is money. Students need money to support themselves and meet some of their daily expenses for necessities like toiletries, food, printing, books and etc. Most would prefer paid part-time or shift jobs then engaging in non-paid volunteer jobs. This is particularly true for universities or colleges students.
So, there is a huge trade off for students to engage in volunteering activities. Having said that, there are benefits that outweigh the loss of time and labour from a student perspective. Particularly in a developing economy like Papua New Guinea, where unemployment rates are still high and employment prospects after graduation are limited, student volunteering does have benefits in so many fronts.
Benefits Of Student Volunteering
There are so many benefits of student volunteering. Below are some of the benefits which are worth considering by students.
Assist in Building Student’s CV Profile.
It is common knowledge among employers that students lack work experience for that first entry level job. So most students bank their prospects on the student transcript and probably a reference from a course lecturer or program department head or divisional head. However, students who state on their CV that they have done volunteer work does have an upper hand. Volunteering activities help students experience and learn a lot of things that are sometimes not taught in the classroom. Stating those experiences and skills in the CV can increase the probability rate getting the first job.
Builds Self-Confidence and self-esteem
Volunteering exposes the student to different people from all works of life. Interacting with different people in different situations and events can broaden the student’s view on so many things. It also helps the students to build self-confidences, develop communication skills and build self-esteem. These are transferable soft skills that the student can develop early in life and get ahead earlier in their career pathway.
Build friendships and network earlier in life.
During the course of volunteering, students can build social and professional networks much earlier. They might even meet some key people in organizations that they might be interested to join after graduation. Classroom and campus environment is confined to interacting with peers and academics. Volunteering opens up making contacts with people and information that may be of important value to the student’s life. For example, a scholarship opportunity, a internship opening and etc.
Potential to build relationship someone who have similar interests.
People often volunteer based on their preferences and interests. This means that student has the potential to meet people who share similar interests, values and passion for a course. This means, there is greater possibility to meet and develop relationships with people have common interests and values. Some of these relationships can be long lasting. Example, people do develop relationship and get married and have good marriages.
Common Student Volunteering Opportunities in PNG.
Even for students who feel they don’t have the time for volunteering activities, students can still find some opportunities to volunteer.
Volunteering in Public Events.
Events occur in the campus and in the community all the time. Rather than being passive attendees. students can register or express their interest to volunteer and become participants. This can lead to free access to sessions (if paid sessions or closed to registered attendees). If it’s a campus event like Conferences, Seminars, Forums and etc, it means getting recognised from course lecturers, program organisers and etc. When it comes to course lecturers and senior program managers (eg Dean of Faculty, Strand etc) for refereeing students to opportunity openings, writing references and etc, they prefer someone they know enough. It is through volunteering in events that students can get to that preferred list of students.
Volunteering in Church Activities.
Church or religious organizations are well known worldwide for variety of common good causes. Also, for spiritual development of students. Attending church services and getting involved in as volunteers in church organized activities for common good can be beneficial in so many ways. For example, students with alcohol problems can seek church counselling services. At the same-time student volunteering with counselling services can learn a lot about the effects of alcohol on health, study and etc.
It can create beneficial relationships and in the event the student needs assistance, church organization that he/she can count on for help. Whether it be financial need, counselling need, support during a death in the family etc which does occur during the course of study, church support network can be of great assistance.
Join Campus Groups
There are various student volunteer groups that do exist in a campus. The good place to check the existence of such group is Student Services/Administration Department. The student can join any of these groups. Bigger campuses have so many employees and students and it can be just like any other public place, even through everyone is working and studying in the same institution. So joining a interest, hobby, or some form of group is vital for social interaction. Whenever, volunteering opportunities becomes available, school administration will normally seek out to such groups and that’s a great way to get volunteering opportunities. Particularly, for campus events such as meetings, conferences, career expos, registration and orientation programs and etc.
Volunteering school during holidays.
Yes, holidays are meant for break or time out from studies and hectic campus life schedules but they are also great opportunity to volunteer. Most organizations and businesses do need extra hand during the holiday periods. Most social gatherings and events occur during this time. Example, Weddings, Christmas functions, church end of year functions and etc. Look out for opportunities to volunteer during this time. Those events and and holidays periods are great time to learn real job experiences, build networks and even get paid for the services.
Volunteering with NGO Organizations.
Look for volunteering opportunities with NGOs. There are great NGO organizations that offer valuable services and assistance to people and for common good causes. Check out the ones closest to the campus and look for volunteering opportunities. It may not be several hours work but simple tasks like assisting them to cut their office front lawn every Sunday for 2 hrs. Most NGOs operate on donations and they will most like welcome any deed offered and also meet and connect with their other volunteers.
Check out the their websites, facebook pages and news paper advertisements for volunteer work.
Volunteering Resources Online.
There are tons of online websites that have great resources the different aspects of volunteering. Here are some websites to getting some ideas around student volunteering.
A community-based NGO in the US that specialises in providing specialised assistance to people with disabilities.
Great Australian Volunteering website to find interesting ideas and volunteer jobs in Australia.
NCVO is a UK based organization that provide policy guidance and related services to so many Volunteer Organizations around England. Great place for students who are majoring Social Services programs.
National Volunteer Service of Papua New Guinea is government institution responsible for promote volunteering activities in PNG. It also works with other international volunteer organizations to organize training and placement of volunteers to work in PNG.