By Punyaslok Rath:
“I started as a volunteer, and technically, I still am one. But I have been here for more than two years now and count myself as one of the permanent employees. Teaching has always been a sort of a hobby, but this is far more than just teaching. I can safely say that I am the one who has learned more from this than what I have taught”, says Sneha Malhotra, a volunteer at an NGO based out of Delhi.
Volunteering may not be at the top of the priority list for students, but ask those who have done it and they will tell you how fulfilling the experience is. The essence of volunteerism is in giving back to the society, but that’s not what it’s all about. It teaches you many valuable things –
Develops your skills – Volunteering exposes you to a whole new world of opportunities and at the same time helps you in honing your existing skills. It teaches you things that can’t be taught in classrooms. Take for instance, the ability to work in teams – we can’t stress enough how important that is in today’s job market and volunteering more often than not, involves working in teams. It brings out new hobbies, interests, and helps form opinions. You’ll be surprised at how good you’re at things you have never done and a volunteering internship can give you opportunities to try all of them out. A volunteering experience can actually help you decide your career!
Meeting diverse groups – Volunteering brings together people from diverse fields. Interaction with co-workers presents an excellent networking scope. A friend of mine who is a medical student did a volunteering internship at a local hospital during his summer break and it was there that he met his present mentor. It enhances your cross-cultural understanding and develops your people skills. It’s a common pain point of employers that students lag behind in their communication skills during their internships. A volunteering stint could help you curb that.
Discover yourself – Not only professional help, volunteering widens your personality horizon by exposing you to different kinds of situations and environments. It’s one thing to watch under-privileged children study in an open school in a television documentary and a totally different experience to actually be present in such a school and teach them. It gives you a new and appreciative perspective in life, which nothing else can do.
Sense of achievement – Imagine the satisfaction you get when a charity event ends successfully or when the kids you taught pass with flying colours. ‘Volunteering can be immensely fulfilling to people who want to be the instruments of change’, says Megha Rastogi, who has been working in the Social Service Guild in her college since her 1st year. As already pointed out, the essence of volunteering is about giving back to the society.
Boosts your career –While applying for other internships, without much prior work experience to show to your employer, volunteering stints could vouch for your all-round abilities – organizing events, making optimum utilization of the scant resources available, handling operations, managing people, and many more. Even when you apply for higher studies in foreign countries, these experiences will help you boost your CV.
How many stories have you heard of people leaving their well-settled lives in posh cities and coming down to set-up their own schools or charitable organizations? There must be something really worth in it. As for students, it should be a must-do! It doesn’t require a huge time commitment, helps us build a good network, helps us come out of our shelled routine life, and most importantly, gives us an opportunity to make a difference.
Note: This article was contributed by Internshala – India’s leading internship portal.