Sunday, 6 March 2011

Why volunteer?

I read an article on the Guardian website recently that discussed volunteering and how those who volunteer are somehow playing into the hands of David Cameron and his 'big society', even though we may not necessarily agree with the man or his policies. It's typical that I can find plenty of articles on said newspaper website that discuss volunteering except the one that I want so I am unable to reference it. My dissertation advisor would have a cow. This highlights the fact that we're still not nearly as clever as we think we are when it comes to searching data but that's another story.

So why volunteer? I can only speak from personal experience here. But I can hazard a guess that all those who do volunteer at the moment - be it in a charity shop on the high street, or coaching a youth sports team or anything equally applaudable - will be a bit miffed if Mr. Cameron starts taking credit for the way in which they invest their time. I too am a volunteer because I want to be, not because I am responding to the call of the Conservative government. My motivation is probably a little more mercenary than most; I know that being able to show a future employer that I can work on interesting projects outside of my day job is a good thing. My MSc certainly shows this and so does my volunteer work with the International Thai Foundation. Maybe 90 out of 100 people applying for the same job as me can't show this on their CV's which at least gets me on the interview list. Once you're at that stage it's a bit of a lottery (one or more of the panel might not like you) but create enough chances and one will go your way.

So credit where it's due please. It was my idea to volunteer, and my efforts that got me the right volunteering opportunity putting my skills to good use (and learning some new ones too). Nothing at all to do with the Prime Minister.

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