4 Benefits of Volunteering While Studying in Australia
Going overseas to study means adapting quickly to a lot of new things at once, so you may be thinking, ‘how could I possibly fit in volunteering as well?’
But here’s the thing. Rather than thinking of it as a drain on your time, a volunteer role might be exactly what you need to help achieve your personal and career goals.
Here are four unexpected benefits of volunteering that you should consider:
1. Volunteering is a great way to meet locals and practise your English
Your level of English proficiency not only affects your grades and ability to find employment, but it also affects your confidence. Not being able to express yourself fully can be very frustrating, which is why so many of our students agree that it’s one of the hardest parts of studying overseas.
One of the best ways that research has shown to fast track language learning, is to ‘flood your brain’ with the language you’re trying to learn. Listening to it and practising it as much as possible is essential to accelerated learning.
These are things you can’t learn in the classroom: it’s helpful to get out and learn how Australians communicate and interact at work.
Did you know that Australians spend over 700 million hours volunteering every year, at local sports clubs, churches, charities and hospitals?
Volunteering in a local community organisation, you’ll get to meet all kinds of Australians and regularly practise your English. You’ll start feeling more at home and confident with your speaking than if you were to limit yourself to campus life.
2. Gain some valuable work experience
If you want to have a competitive edge in the job market by the time you finish your studies, it’s a good idea to build up your CV with some work experience.
Employers are increasingly looking at what you’ve done outside of your education when hiring new graduates. Internships and work placements are a great opportunity to get this necessary experience, but they can be difficult to find and to get into. There is often more demand for internships than there are opportunities available.
That’s where volunteering can come in. Unlike internships, you don’t need to pass an interview and be selected, to get in. And, there are lots of different roles you can take on, across many different fields relevant to your career.
SEEK research found that 95% of employers agreed that volunteering can be a credible way of gaining real-work experience to add to your resume. In fact, if it’s considered relevant to the role or industry you are looking to work in, 85% of hirers believe it’s just as credible as paid work.
You could consider working on fundraising teams for a charity, social media campaigning for a human rights organisation, volunteering in local hospitals and care facilities, organising events for a cultural non-profit, or even volunteering on a farm (great if you’re studying agricultural science!)
Your resume could say, ‘project manager,’ ‘team leader,’ ‘volunteer coordinator,’ or ‘marketing assistant,’ without ever having done an internship!
3. Learn new skills and discover new passions
Aside from looking impressive on your resume, volunteering is a great way to learn new skills and discover new interests.
‘Soft skills’ that you can’t learn in a classroom, such as team-work, problem-solving and communication, are becoming increasingly important in today’s workforce.
Research has demonstrated that students who volunteer while studying, graduate with more developed ‘soft skills’ than those who don’t. Plus, if you choose volunteer work that’s relevant to your industry, you can also learn transferrable ‘work-ready’ skills that you’ll use in a future role.
Volunteering is a great way to try something new without making a huge commitment. As a volunteer, your time is appreciated, and you’ll also be given training and support. You might even discover a whole new passion that will change your direction in life!
4. Do something positive, and be happier and healthier
Moving overseas is an opportunity to try things you’ve wanted to do but never have. You’re already outside your comfort zone, so why not choose this as your moment to do something positive for society?
The good news is that doing something good for others is also good for you! There has been a lot of research lately into the psychological and physical health benefits of ‘giving.’ Psychologists and doctors agree, doing something nice for other people is good for our mental and physical health.
According to a range of different studies, volunteers report higher levels of positivity, and self-confidence after volunteer sessions. Volunteering also encourages empathy, which triggers the brain to release oxytocin and other neurochemicals associated with good moods.
It’s essential to be happy and healthy if you want to do well in your studies. Having a positive self-image, connecting to others and practising empathy are all linked to ongoing mental and physical health.
So, how do I get started volunteering?
As a Murdoch Institute of Technology student, you have a dedicated student services team on campus, that can assist you in a range of services including career advice.
You also have access to all services offered by Murdoch University. This includes the Murdoch Guild Volunteering Hub which offers a variety of opportunities for students, as well as CareerConnect which is an online hub linking you to various jobs and career resources.
See here to find out more about starting your pathway to university in Australia at the Murdoch Institute of Technology.
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