Students these days are desperate for work experience. Hours are dedicated to researching companies, which may or may not take students on. It seems that Google has become every student’s best friend. A few simple keywords such as ‘student work experience’ generates millions of results on the Google homepage. No wonder students feel as if they’ve given their brains a work-out. With so many options, so many letters to write and tonnes of CVs to create, in order to match each job description, not hearing back can be very frustrating and discouraging!
Society Needs Volunteers
Nevertheless, it shouldn’t end there! Our society needs volunteers! The current debate still stands on whether unpaid internships should be permitted. The lack of relevant work given, as some may argue, and not being appreciated, makes you wonder why you should even bother getting work experience.
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It’s been said before that, in order to gain experience, you need experience! It’s a classic catch 22. And what experience are you gaining, if you’re just filling your time with menial tasks and nothing else? Volunteering is now on the rise and it is a FANTASTIC way of not only gaining experience and developing your skills, but also contributing to society doing something you enjoy. I can confidently vouch for the benefits of volunteering from personal experience. Participating in charitable organisations is absolutely invaluable. They need you, and the feeling of being appreciated makes you feel motivated and happy, while learning a lot at the same time. It shows that you have a good heart, too! Although getting yourself out there, gaining as much work experience as possible is absolutely vital, don’t leave your personality behind. It’s your personality that can shine in an interview and make you stand out. I’ll give you an example; I was invited to an interview at a charity and the interviewer , like all interviewers do, asked about my experience on my CV. I expressed my enthusiasm for my charity work, and my work was given admirable feedback. I had done something that I loved, or developed a profound interest in, and was applauded for it.
Internships vs Volunteering
I understand how important it may be to be able to gain an internship at a top firm. I understand it completely. After all, statistics show that interning at a company gives a candidate a better chance of securing a permanent position at that company after the end of an internship. However, a word of caution to all those seeing internships as the “Holy Grail” of employment – don’t become overly consumed by the idea of securing an internship as your only option. As you already know, you’re in competition with thousands of your peers, so widen your horizons a bit more. How about stop chasing the game, but use your brain? You will burn out and get defeated otherwise.
Unpaid Internships vs Volunteering
Moving on to my next point: what’s the difference between volunteering and unpaid internships? Acknowledging that both opportunities enable you to gain substantial skills, I am aware that the term ‘internships’ takes things to a whole new level. During an internship you’ll be exposed to responsibilities that are more specific to a particular role within a company. There will definitely be a job description and a person specification to illustrate the responsibilities associated with the role and what the company requires from you.
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As a volunteer, on the other hand, you might be required to perform various tasks, your role might not be entirely structured, but you might also be appreciated more by the organisation you’re working for. Why? Because you’re giving up YOUR time to help others. Volunteering is not just about gaining skills for your CV and filling that blank piece of paper – it’s about who you are and what you’re passionate about.
Your CV should not be seen as a list of ‘activities’. Don’t try to impress for the sake of impressing others. Your CV should be seen as a piece of art. It’s a piece of evidence that you are a passionate individual. Each and every individual has a personality, so embrace it! That’s what employers want to see.