Working for Free: How Volunteering Can Help You Succeed

Sarah NantaisBlogs

About the Author
Sarah Nantais

Sarah Nantais

Sarah Nantais is a Virtual Help Desk Navigator at Campus Manitoba. She contributes to "The Navigator," our monthly blog focused on student life.

The summer months are approaching, I promise. Just ignore that cold weather in the forecast. With summer generally comes some free time. Classes are over, especially if you’re in highschool, and you may find yourself with more time on your hands than  you expected. You should be making that free time work for you. One of the best ways to learn some skills, market yourself and try out different jobs is by volunteering. Yeah, you’re going to be working for free and yes you should treat it like you would if you were getting paid, but you’ll get so much out of it that you won’t even care that you aren’t getting paid! Okay, maybe you’ll care, but hopefully you’ll feel so good about what you’re doing it won’t be so bad.

hands of different genders and races coming together

Together we can do it

To volunteer means to give your time and effort to a person or an organization for free. While the world does require money to keep moving, there is so much to be gained from volunteering. We’re going to break down some of the good points, and drawbacks, of signing up to work for free.

The Upside

Did you know that if you volunteer while you’re in highschool you can get credit for it towards your diploma? If you’re between jobs or fresh out of university or college and everywhere you look they want experience, you might be able to get that experience by volunteering. If you’re still in the middle of your studies many of the universities and colleges promote volunteering and will help you find a placement. Sometimes just the simple act of giving to someone or an organization in need without expecting anything in return can make you feel like a superhero. Depending on what or where you want to volunteer there might not be an age restriction. This way you can make it a family occasion and get everyone involved.

Volunteering in High School

I wasn’t lying when I said you could get credit if you volunteered while a high school student. There are some guidelines that you’ll want to pay attention to, but in all honesty, it’s hard to lose with this. Not only will you get real work experience that you can proudly put on your resume, volunteering your time will have a positive impact on your future. You’ll learn how to work as a team, understand what different organizations do for your community. When you apply to university or college this experience can be invaluable. Some programs will require volunteer experience for admission and even if they don’t, it’ll still make you look awesome. You can start your search at Volunteer Manitoba.

Volunteering in University or College

Once you get into the program of your dreams that doesn’t mean you have to stop volunteering. Even if you’ve never done it before, this is still a perfect time to start! Some of the options you have when you’re in post-secondary could take you around the world. This is too awesome of an opportunity to pass up. You can check out the resources here:

young man thinking

Take your Time

Most volunteer positions don’t require a whole lot of your time. Depending on what the job is, you might need to commit an hour or so of your time a week. There are some organizations that will ask you to commit to six months or a year. This usually happens when there is a lot of training involved. Volunteering at the Klinic Crisis Line is an example of this. You can also check out Volunteer Manitoba to see if there is an opportunity near you.

The Downside

Honestly, there aren’t many downsides to volunteering. The biggest downside would have to be the fact that you are working for free. When you volunteer, you need to treat it like a real, paying job. The people and organizations depend on you to be there to do your work. Another downside could be the time commitment required. Really pay attention to what you’re getting yourself into. Are you available once a week for a year? Can you put in five hours a month for six months? That is something only you can answer and you should honestly consider what you are able to offer.

When it comes to time commitments, there are some organizations that only operate at certain times of the year. Giving up all of your spare time for the month of January, for example, might be too much. Even if you do find a position with an organization or agency that you like, you might not get steady work.

What You Make of it

“Volunteers do not necessarily have the time; they have the heart” – Elizabeth Andrew

There is much that can be said about being a volunteer. The opportunities are what you make of them: you could be doing something as simple as picking up garbage from the side of the road to as life-changing as mentoring a youth in distress. It’s an indescribable feeling that you gain from volunteering. To make things even better, right now it’s National Volunteer Week. It’s something everyone should experience at some point in their lives. Not only are you gaining skills and experiences you might not have otherwise had but you are almost making an impact in someone’s life. For many people, that is reward enough.

About “The Navigator”

“The Navigator” is a monthly blog about student life by the Campus Manitoba Virtual Help Desk. Check back monthly to find more tidbits of wisdom with “The Navigator”. You’ll be sure to find all kinds of information that will help you be successful in your educational journey. Don’t forget to follow us on Facebook and Twitter for more news and information!