Why Volunteering During Your Degree is Super Important!

 

By sofia dalla costa

Though volunteer work is often hotly debated in many professions (should people do paid-level work for free?), as a marine scientist, I have personally found volunteer work to be super important and rewarding - throughout my degree, I volunteered for countless companies and labs and wouldn’t take any of it back. If you haven’t thought about volunteering, or are tossing up whether or not you should take a volunteering position because it doesn’t seem worth it, here are five reasons why you should say yes…

 
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1. It’s a chance to network

If you find a position that is relevant to the field that you want to join, then volunteering is a fantastic opportunity to find like-minded people and a potential employer. Chances are that if you work hard and are great at your job, they might offer you a paid position in the future. That happened to me with the company that I now work for!


2. It helps you decide your future

Like many students of our era, throughout my degree I had no idea what I wanted to do once I graduated… So, I volunteered for different labs and companies until I found one that I really enjoyed. This didn’t happen until my third year when I was close to graduating, and helped me make a plan for after graduation! Volunteering could help you avoid that panic that comes when you’re deciding what to do with your life…


3. You’re a student while doing it

As someone who has graduated and is still doing some volunteering on the side, I can tell you now that it is much better to volunteer while still at university. There are a few reasons for this, but the main is simple; when you leave uni, you’re not a student. This means that you leave behind all the perks of being a student, and have to find a job. Which leads me to my next point…


4. It gives you an advantage during job interviews

A study completed in America found that individuals with volunteering experience had a 27% better chance at finding a job. This mightn’t seem like a lot, but finding a job in STEM can be very competitive, so that 27% could make all the difference!

5. It makes you feel AMAZING!

If you are passionate and love what you do, then giving your free time doesn’t even feel like a chore. There is something extremely fulfilling about giving your time to others and getting very little in return. And if you’re finding it hard and not loving the work you’re doing, just remember this little article and think to yourself “I’m not getting much from it now, but I will in the future”.

Now that you know how amazing volunteering can be, send an email to a lab or company of choice and see if they have any opportunities available. Only a crazy person will turn down free work, so chances are they’ll say yes!