I was absolutely naive to the concept of volunteering until I started serving at a church as a part of my college internship. I used to hear my school friends talk about how they volunteered in different organisations but never really put too much attention into it.
Unpaid work goes from work internships to any kind of help for social causes or for the community. People can volunteer in a great variety of organisations and positions. The dilemma always comes when people ask themselves if it is worth it to work without a financial reward, some people see it as a waste of time and energy and others see organisations based on volunteer work as abusive. But what is it actually like to be a volunteer? Is all the benefit for the organisation or is there any benefit for the person volunteering as well? Let us give you a glimpse!
How it benefits you
In the case of internships, even though it is an unpaid position, it brings with it benefits that you probably wouldn’t get in a normal job. As a fresh graduate or a student, paid positions might require a lot of experience or education ir order to be filled, but a volunteer’s profile, allows you to enter the company with a considerable load of responsibility that will give you a taste of the job. After this you can decide whether you would like to apply for a similar position or not.
For other people who choose to volunteer for community and social causes, it is a bit different, for they are not volunteering to get a job, but to help others and in helping find personal satisfaction. A lot of people volunteer for NGOs and Non-for-profit organisations aside of their study time and work time, simply because they have something that they would like to contribute to society.
I personally have been volunteering in a church for about 5 years now, started it as an internship and moved on to simply volunteering, but I can assure you that no paid job in the world can fill my heart like what I get to do on a week to week basis does. Knowing that you are contributing to build something so much bigger than just your own dreams and career is beyond worth it.
How it benefits others
The work of volunteers is extremely important to any kind of organisation. First because it allows them to showcase their company to potential workers, second because it allows them to find good candidates for a position in a trial period and third, for organisations that are non-for profit, it allows them to have workers that will help them grow in all aspects without affecting them with wages expenses.
This is not always the case, but I love seeing the heart of volunteers, it is one thing to work for a wage and it is another thing to work for satisfactions and the help you can bring to the table. Of course there are amazing workers that give their all in their jobs, but there is something very special about volunteers that screams to people “I want to be here and I chose to do this”.
Work is work
I’ve had conversations with many volunteers of different organisations and what we all found in common is that nowadays, specially to the older generation, it is hard to describe a volunteer’s work. People have this pre-conception that if the job you do is unpaid it requires less effort than a paid job. But this is not true, whether the person chooses to do a job for free or be paid for it should not affect the excellence with which the job is done, and a volunteer’s work deserves to be respected and valued just as much as any worker’s.
In the case of the church that I volunteer for, even though there are no financial rewards for volunteers, the staff ensures that they are very well taken care of, including meals for long hours, insurance and health cover for events. Their work is also consistently recognised and as an organisation we do admit that if it wasn’t for the help of volunteers, the church wouldn’t have the size, health and impact that it does today. With all this, volunteers feel valued and are continually motivated to continue contributing.
The truth overall is that volunteering is work, it is a work that is worth recognising and a work that should be taken seriously including the safety and training aspect of it. It is an amazing way of learning and using your skills to help organisations grow and to help the community. At the end of the day, even though money is important and essential to live in today’s world, it shouldn’t be the only motivation for our actions.
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