30 Sep

From the start, volunteering has been a hot topic of discussion in both the past and the present. The fact that it is a job that includes no monetary benefits is a spicy subject in itself because why would anyone in their right mind would want to work for free?

I did, and so do many other people.

Even though the work of volunteers has been praised throughout the world, there is still somewhat of a negative attitude that surrounds it. The media’s portrayal of volunteering often describes it as “exploitation”, “a waste of time” and “another voluntourism program”, which therefore would make it hard for any of us to think of any positive attributes it may bring, but after personally taking part in an impressive volunteer program that Caminhos Language Centre  offers, I have realised the important role that volunteering plays for me and society.

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These are my five reasons why you should be a volunteer at some stage of your life.

1. It is definitely less stressful than a “normal” job

I’m sure you can think of the countless times that you have lost hours of sleep from all the stress-induced tossing and turning brought upon by your “normal job”. It could be about how you may have said the wrong thing to your boss, or how you left an assignment till the last minute. The unfortunate reality is that it can sometimes start to feel like even though you are getting a pay cheque at the end of each month, you just can’t seem to catch a break.

Let me tell you from personal experience that volunteering doesn’t carry even half the day-to-day stresses that a regular job does. In the regular nine to five grind, the pressure to perform is a constant worry in a workers mind, which more often than not, affects the quality of the work you produce. As a volunteer, you are giving up your free time to work for a cause that your feel passionately about or are simply out to gain a new experience. More often than not, it doesn’t even feel like you’re working because the combination of a supportive, educational and community-based environment allows you to do your job at the best of your ability, stress free.

2. Your CV will glisten 

Living in a world nowadays where it is more accessible than ever to obtain university qualifications, it is never enough to just have a degree or two. Employees are recognising this trend and are wanting more than ever. What this means is that candidates constantly need to out-do the other candidates in any way possible in order to get the job.

I can tell you right now that volunteering a volunteering gig is your one-way ticket to getting that job you’ve always dreamt of. Having volunteering experience shows the employer that you are an independent and hard working individual that is willing to make sacrifices in order to learn. With that being said, hop on board the volunteering express and give your CV that extra pop.

3. The networking opportunities will open many doors

So since it is an undisputable fact that volunteering provides the amazing opportunity to expand your networking horizons, new opportunities and pathways will be sure to follow.

It normally isn’t a shock after having done volunteering work that your professional and social network has expanded enormously. In this modern age, I cannot stress the importance of networking enough because as a result of our constantly changing society, it is a fact that it is now not about what you know, but rather who you know.

Also, networking is not as mentally and socially arduous as you might think (it is actually quite sociable and fun) because it can be as simple as having a few caipirinhas after work on a Friday evening. The thing is, after having volunteered, you never know which doors will open right in front of you.

 4. You are adding purpose to your life

There is so much personal growth and experience to be had as a volunteer. Not only are you doing something meaningful for society and gaining more life experience, you are at the same time, adding value to your life. All the free time and holidays that you have chosen to spend gaining this valuable experience will pay dividends in the end as you will start to feel like a more well-rounded human being.

You will start to realise the important role that volunteering plays within society and will start to see its positive effects in community-run places such as community schools, museums and churches (who mostly rely on volunteers rather than paid employees). What’s most valuable is that you will start to feel like your life isn’t just about cashing in that monthly pay check that comes with your regular job and will start to see the bigger picture of what a functioning and happy community is all about.

5. Opportunity to explore new horizons

Not only will you be adding purpose to your life volunteering, but you’re also opening up your eyes to a world that you thought may never have existed. You might never have seen yourself teaching English to underprivileged kids in a Rio favela, or even being the sort of person that would cook hearty home cooked meals for the homeless and needy. The beauty of volunteering is that you are often doing things that often stretch you out of your comfort zone, which allows time for personal growth. You will without a doubt look back fondly on your time as a volunteer as it has more often than not made a huge part of the wonderful person you are today.

So what are you waiting for? If you have a strong passion to make a change in your life or someone else’s, get out there and do it. You never know what could be waiting for you right around the corner.

Caminhos Language Centre offers extensive long and short-term volunteering programs with plenty of exciting opportunities from videography to teaching English to underprivileged Brazilian children. If you are interested in the prospect of challenging yourself intellectually and socially, check out the Caminhos Language Centre’s volunteering program on their website http://caminhoslanguages.com/volunteer.