Looking for a job, especially if it’s first time, you often pick the easiest opportunity and end up stuck with something you don’t actually like or are particularly good at. If this is your case, there are 3 perfect times when volunteering can actually be better than work.
These three best times to volunteer are:
- When you are fresh from school and need to “test-drive” a job, because you are not sure if you want to spend 5 years at the university studying graphic design, communication, social work, etc.
- Straight after graduating from university, when you would like to add guaranteed experience with a recognised international organisation to your CV;
- When you want to change and start a new path in life before it’s too late and you’ve grown into your office chair.
In all of the cases “ingredients” of the perfect volunteer work will be the same. But here because your are not actually payed, you can find an activity that actually brings joy. Otherwise why bother?
The perfect work should be the one:
- you love to do;
- you are able to do;
- you desperately want to know more about it.
In a perfect world you go to European Volunteering database, find a perfect organisation, go through an even better Skype interview, arrive to the project and fall in love with that organic farming activism or work in the archives of WW2, and understand that you want to work in this field forever.
Now in reality it often happens that you get a place because someone else cancelled and because you got tired of that office job. Go through an interview where the only thing you remember to ask is “are there showers in a volunteer house”, arrive to an unknown place and get stuck… in another office. Only now without getting payed.
Or you suddenly understand that farming is just “not your thing”.
WHAT TO DO
First, give it a month. Dissatisfaction might be actually a shock of having moved to another country.
One 19-year old Parisian boy went on EVS to a village in the middle of Ukraine. When he saw three houses and undending November rain, he called parents on Skype and said “I’m coming home”. Fortunately the village had no public transport going on weekends. So he was stuck with local green activist. They had some tea, played guitars and went fishing and… he decided to stay for another week. And another, and another. See what I mean?
Second, always remember that this is volunteering. Volunteers has more flexibility to do what they actually want to do. Yes, there is a written agreement, but it states number of hours and suggested tasks volunteer agrees to accomplish.
Third, negotiate. There is always rule to discuss you volunteer agreement with supervisors and find a solution for your “allergy to office spaces” or “wish to study graphic design“. Any NGO understands that a good volunteer is a motivated volunteer. Simply remind your supervisors about it if you don’t feel happy. Or grab a cup of coffee with your mentor (if you have one).
Finally, fourth: make your own project! Make this time matter. Set up a photo exhibition, write a book, create a free tour around your office, teach a dance class or try to grow a mango in UK! Just experiment – this is the perfect time to act.
In the end when it’s not about money, it’s about you being happy.
Look further for:
Tips on How to Create Personal Project
Advice on What to Do Before you Decide to Quit EVS