With summer fast approaching, you might find yourself fantasizing about some quality time away from your textbook, daydreaming of summer days spent outside the classroom! Summer can be an ideal time for trying out hobbies, developing skills and making new friends. You need to make time for yourself and for discovering where your passions lie. What better way to achieve this than through volunteering?
When you think of volunteering, what image springs to mind? Someone shaking a bucket to fundraise for a charity? Helping to build a house abroad? Befriending an older person? Volunteering is all these things but also many, many more. Put simply, volunteering is about giving your time to benefit someone else.
If you’re unsure of what you would like to do after school or what you will study in college, volunteering can be a great way of trying out potential job interests. Of course, it’s also a great way of sharing your skills with others – why not volunteer your social media skills to help an up and coming organisation? Play music for older people at a local convalescent home? Organise a fashion show with a local charity shop? Or perhaps there is a cause that’s close to your heart – whether you’re a wildlife aficionado, a music lover or you’re passionate about helping those less fortunate than yourself, anyone can volunteer and there are countless ways in which to do so.
You can decide what you’d like to do and whom you would like to help. There is a powerful sense of fulfilment that comes from volunteering. Once you try it, you’ll never want to stop!
In a survey we carried out with volunteers aged 16-18, one in four volunteers found that they developed new personal skills and improved their communication skills through volunteering. 50% said that volunteering improved their CV and employment prospects and over 38% felt a personal sense of fulfilment after volunteering. A survey that LinkedIn carried out with hiring managers showed that 40% considered volunteering experience of equal value to paid work experience.
There are currently over 177,000 senior cycle secondary students in Ireland. If every student was to volunteer just one hour per week, imagine how much could be achieved? No one can do everything, but everyone can do something. To see how you could start volunteering this summer and to read some inspiring stories of how others have made a difference, visit www.volunteer.ie
Nina Arwitz is CEO of Volunteer Ireland, the national volunteer development agency, which promotes and supports volunteering in Ireland.