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Do you want to be a Volunteer? HAnds Up!

Looking for something to do besides your studies and assignments? Why not get a part-time job? In a previous edition of E-mate, Students@Work, the issues relating to paid employment has already been discussed. However, have you also considered working as a volunteer?

Apart from the opportunity to help others and contribute to the community, volunteering is a great way to boost your social life and learn new skills. Volunteer work, like paid work, can also look impressive on your resume. Whats more, unlike most part-time jobs available to international students, you will have the chance to volunteer in areas related to the career you wish to pursue, which can help you find out whether you're really suited to a career in those areas.

So, say you are studying in linguistic or something related, why not volunteer at your local library and teach English to new migrants as well as earn some valuable points from potential employers when you are competing for a job later on. You may also get the chance to meet and work with professionals in your pursued field who could be useful contacts or referees when you graduate.

"I did some volunteer works during my studies in UTS. The most memorable experience is when I volunteered at the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games. I helped out at the volunteers centre where I made friends with other fellow volunteers. It was such a huge event. I didnt know that volunteering can be so much fun!", said Lina, a student from China on her experience as a volunteer.

Before you commit to volunteer its a good idea to take into consideration the following few things:

What are the skills that you would like to gain from the work?

Most common skills that a prospective employer may value most highly include: teamwork, communication and interpersonal skills, problem solving, organisation, motivation, leadership and, in some areas, technological skills

What are the skills you have to offer?

The agencies will expect you to at least demonstrate responsibility and reliability on your work, and be able to be initiative

Are you looking for an on-going assignment or something short-term?

You might want to take on temporary assignments first when starting out, and gradually move to the long-term ones

How much time are you willing and able to spend, keeping in mind that your primary responsibility is to study?

The agencies will expect you to be committed to the work

What are the Volunteering Opportunities being Offered?

Community service - coordinated through local government, community service groups and church organisations

Human Rights and International Aid including Amnesty International and Red Cross Australia

The Arts - including museums, galleries, community Arts projects, publications and special events such as festivals

Environment - including government agencies such as Conservation Volunteers Australia and Greenpeace

If you are interested in getting involved as a volunteer, contact your campus for more information. Most universities offer international students the opportunity to become a volunteer.

Remember that your community is not the only one who gets benefit from your volunteer work. You'll be surprised of what the experience can teach you about yourself!