Volunteering for students & young people
Students say that the benefits they get from volunteering are enhanced feelings of personal worth and contribution, refinement of values and the acquisition of new skills and knowledge.
With new research showing 1 in 5 HR Managers look for volunteering experience on resumes and the growth of university intake programs such as Latrobe’s Aspire, which takes students volunteering experience into consideration when assessing your university application, there are many benefits to volunteering as a student.
What is volunteering?
Volunteering is giving your time, skills and abilities for free to help out an organisation or activity that benefits others. Technically it’s defined as an activity that assists not-for-profit organisations – but that doesn’t just mean charities. It can mean arts festivals, sporting events or team involvement, environmental activities, animal welfare, political activism and any number of ways to help in the community.
Shaping your career
Volunteering can give you an insight into the career of your choice, and whether it’s for you. It can also totally reshape your future. Entrepreneur Alex Rixon-Booth launched I Need Helpers, a student volunteer organisation after experiencing the benefits of volunteering himself whilst studying.
“We always look forward to seeing the familiar faces of our student volunteers and continue to be the connective tissue between them and their future careers,” said Alex.
I Need Helpers is one of the first organisations to have such a significant influence in the development of volunteer programs for the event sector. Last year through Australasian Special Events, it gained the title of Melbourne’s Leading Volunteer Management Organisation.
What other benefits can you expect?
In a recent study by Volunteering ACT all students reported the following benefits:-
- enhanced feelings of self-worth and a feeling of being part of something worthwhile. Students felt that what they did was important and they got positive feedback about their involvement;
- growing self-efficacy;
- connectedness — particularly for alienated youth;
- a sense of community belonging;
- realisation that money does not need to change hands for everything in life;
- acquiring skills that they did not necessarily have, or that they had not had the opportunity to apply;
- developing empathy for others who have different lives than themselves;
- finding direction and moving on to work in related fields;
- enhanced social interaction and new friends;
- connecting with the real world — young people said they were exposed to the demands of the adult work environment such as having to be reliable, dependable and organised; and
- mutual personal growth for the volunteer and client
If you’re under 18
Plenty of young people volunteer in Victoria. But there are some issues that can make it harder for people under 18 to find a volunteer role.
- Organisations must ensure their insurance policies (especially volunteer insurance) include those under 18
- Organisations may be unwilling or practically unable to adequately take fulfill their duty of care to the young person (duty of care is generally considered greater the younger the person)
- A role may require travel or a driver’s licence
- Work may take place within school hours
- A role might call for skills or experience that young people have not yet gained
If you can’t find a suitable role by searching online, call our Volunteering Information Service on 8327 8500 for a list of organisations that frequently engage young volunteers.
Volunteering for groups of young people
Many schools, unis and TAFES, clubs and social groups instruct students to undertake community work, often in groups.
It can be hard for groups to find volunteer opportunities because community organisations may not have the necessary space, equipment or staff to supervise, or even the money to fund the projects for groups to work on.
But many organisations get a lot out of engaging with groups of young people – it just might take a bit more effort to arrange!
The best way to find an opportunity for your group is to think local:
- speak to your local church groups, schools, community centres, aged care facilities and centres for people with disabilities
- ask the local council about environmental or heritage groups that operate in the area
- scan the local paper for news of community activities and events
- approach cultural groups or clubs active in your area
Schools note: Contact the Victorian Government’s Advance program to find out about funding and support to establish volunteering and community projects for school students.
Volunteering for uni or TAFE (placements)
You can search our database for a volunteer role.
Volunteering can be a great way to bring together a student’s need for experience in their field with the community’s need for specialised help. However, most organisations are looking for a commitment from volunteers that may go beyond the needs of your course placement.
You’ll also get more out of your volunteering experience if you do work that inspires and satisfies you in general (as opposed to just doing it because you have to).
These unis have dedicated services to help students volunteer:
Deakin University Volunteering information
Monash University Volunteering at Monash
Swinburne Student Leadership and Volunteer Program
University of Melbourne Melbourne Careers Centre
Victoria University Learning in the workplace and community program