Volunteering Frequently Asked Questions
1. How can I fit volunteering around study and work?
It’s really up to you how much time you dedicate to volunteering. Luckily, there are such a variety of opportunities that you can pretty much be guaranteed to find something that you can fit in around your life. Can you only commit to one day a month? That’s fine, lots of organisations would still be happy to have you! Can you give no guarantees over a long period or just want to give volunteering a try? Why not try event volunteering or the Hub’s one-off Volunteering Ventures? Volunteering Ventures are opportunities that allow you to volunteer alongside a friend, meet other Murdoch students and accomplish something meaningful, all without the commitment normally required from volunteering.
2. Does my volunteering have to relate to my studies?
While a lot of people do volunteer in positions that are related to what they’re studying, many others don’t. Most people don’t just have one area of interest, and volunteering means you can have your fingers in lots of pies without racking up a massive HECS debt. Even if your volunteer experience isn’t related to what you’re studying, you are quite likely to develop transferrable skills that can apply to any area of work, like communication, team work and leadership. Having multiple interests and taking the initiative to do something worthwhile with them also counts a lot in the eyes of prospective employers, and volunteering of any kind is always a great thing to have on your resume!
3. I don't want to volunteer by myself - what can I do?
Volunteering is one of the best ways to make friends with similar interests to you! Why not try a Volunteering Venture, run by the Hub, as a starting point? Volunteering Ventures are organised one-off group volunteering opportunities, so it’s a great way to meet other Murdoch students whilst contributing to the community. Also, once your friends see how much fun you’re having volunteering, it’ll be easy to convince them to give it a shot too!
4. Can I still volunteer if I don't have any skills?
Anyone can volunteer! While some volunteering roles may require specific skills, there are a lot out there who just require committed people who are willing to do a bit of work. Many organisations also offer inductions and training to volunteers to equip them with additional skills. Even if you have no experience in your desired volunteer field, unless you are specifically asked for skills, give it a try and see how you go – you might surprise yourself!
5. What's in it for me if I volunteer?
Volunteers often get just as much out of volunteering as the organisations and the other recipients of your time – in fact, probably more! In addition to those pleasant feelings of having helped the world become a little better, volunteering can also help you.
- Meet new people
- Learn new skills
- Improve your English
- Gain valuable experience
- Enhance your CV
- Improve your confidence and self esteem
- Develop your networks
Sometimes there are tangible perks for certain volunteering opportunities, including free entry to events (such as the Royal Show and music festivals), free industry certified training, free uniforms (including t-shirts or hats) and even, for some regional volunteering opportunities, the chance to travel, stay and eat for free in regional WA!
6. Are internships and volunteering the same?
The Hub does not organise internships. Internships are structured, educational programmes that organisations and businesses invest a significant amount of time and money into developing and running. The main focus of an internship is to provide mentorship and develop the skills of the intern, whereas the main focus of volunteering is to contribute to an organisation that would not be able to run without volunteer assistance. Both volunteering and internships can provide great on-the-job experience. For internships, speak to the head of your school or faculty, Work Integrated Learning or the Careers and Employment Centre.
7. How do I find out about volunteering opportunities?
You can find volunteer opportunities all over WA by searching through our opportunities database that is updated in real time, as organisations put them up! We are connected to Volunteering WA’s database so have hundreds of opportunities at any one time. You can also check out our featured opportunities in GNews, the Guild’s fortnightly newsletter, or keep up to date by liking us on Facebook – search for ‘Murdoch Volunteering Hub’
8. What should I keep in mind to help me find my dream volunteering position?
- Is the volunteer role clear and specific?
- Does the purpose of the organisation match your own values and beliefs?
- Can the organisation provide you with information about its purpose and activity?
- Are you satisfied that the organisations funds are used to fulfill its mission?
- Do your research – google the organisation and go to their “About” section to find out more.
- If the position has been advertised through the Volunteering Hub or G-News then rest assured that the organisation has current insurance covering volunteers.
9. What do I need to know when I sign up for a volunteer position?
Unlike paid staff, volunteers are not covered by awards or work place agreements. But, the good news is that volunteers do have basic rights and responsibilities! Check out what they are. Talk to your volunteer – involving organisation if you are concerned that you are not getting your basic rights (and be prepared to listen and adapt if you are not fulfilling your responsibilities). If either of you can’t or won’t make the changes needed, then carefully consider ending the relationship and moving on.
Accidents can happen! Even when you’re doing something good – karma doesn’t always work like it’s supposed to. So, once you have put through your expression of interest form for a volunteering position, check that the organisation has current volunteer insurance. You can do this directly by asking them to forward you their certificate of currency covering Public Liability and Personal Injury Insurance for volunteers, or by emailing the Volunteering Hub Coordinator and asking them to do so on your behalf (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Always act professionally:
- Turn up on time
- Be polite in written communication
- Give the organisation plenty of notice if you can’t make a shift
- Let the organisation know you’re a student and will probably need time off during exams
- Let the organisation know how long you can commit to the role for.
You might want to call on your Volunteer Manager to act as a referee for you. It’s up to you to make sure they have nothing but glowing accolades to say about you.