What organisation did you support?

The Centre for Volunteering as a Youth Volunteering Development Officer.

How long have you been volunteering?

I began in September as part of an internship which required 100 – 150 hours. At the end of this internship I decided to stay on as a volunteer for The Centre because it was such an enjoyable experience and I felt I had something to contribute.

Was the volunteering part of an education requirement? If so, how did this tie in with what you have learnt in your studies?

I started off as an intern for the Centre for Volunteering through my Master’s degree. I chose to do an internship to gain real world experience. It used theoretical and practical understandings from units previously learnt. Through conducting an evaluation of the Intro to Volunteering Seminars I have been able to implement my knowledge on structuring questionnaires and analysing both qualitative and quantitative data, as well as policy building. This has helped to reinforce what I have learnt.

What did you do for the organisation/issue?

As a part of my experience, I:

  • Reviewed policy and literature
  • Attended Intro to Volunteering Seminars
  • Evaluated the Intro to Volunteering Seminars
  • Looked into and made recommendations for policy relating to youth volunteering
  • Helped in judging the NSW Volunteer of the Year Awards 2012
  • Sat in on client meetings
  • Assisted in the development and update of content for the Youth Volunteering website

What did you most enjoy?

I liked the variety of tasks that I was able to be involved with, the people I was able to meet, and I liked the fact that the environment and The Centre was very relaxed and people were approachable. I also had great opportunities such as being able to attend research workshops and forums that weren’t necessarily a requirement for my position but something that related to my studies.

Challenges/How did you overcome these?

For me the biggest challenge was stepping out of my comfort zone. I’ve been working in retail for a long time and had entered my last year of university study, so to enter a new environment that was very different to what I had known was a bit daunting in the fact that the work was for professional purposes and not a grade. I was also conscious of the fact that the standard of work may be higher than at university. However, coming into an environment where everybody was so relaxed and approachable meant that I became quite comfortable within my role.

What is the main thing you got out of volunteering?

The main thing I got out of volunteering with The Centre was experience and new perspectives. It allowed me to see a range of roles that are undertaken at any one time within an organisation.

Advice?

Just have a go. The worst thing that can happen is you don’t like it; the best is you can love it. You’ll never know unless you have a go.

Do you have any other volunteer experience?

In 2011 I had a five week volunteer experience in Hanoi, Vietnam through a University initiative. In this role I lived in Vietnam for five weeks and worked with a local organisation called ‘Know One Teach One (KOTO)’. Within this role I learnt a lot about the Vietnamese culture and the human spirit. I helped with English classes and also reorganised and redecorated their learning spaces. We also did sports and rec and went on a one week field trip with students of KOTO.

Where can people go for more information?

You can talk to Jacinthe at The Centre for Volunteering, or contact the career services at your educational institution, or get in touch directly with an organisation that you are passionate about.