I recently had a series of talks at some of the leading university campuses, organised by the budding Invest in Youth Initiative (IYI). At the Polytechnic, I mentioned how important volunteering can be for one as he or she works to establish him/herself in life and even as they develop and grow. It was interesting to hear testimonies from some of the students on the floor.
One female student explained to her peers how she is always the first one to volunteer. In fact, minutes before that moment, we had agreed on a task for the female students to organise a motivational talk to be presented by one of the towering female executive leaders in the private sector. This young lady had quickly raised her hand as volunteer to organise the talk event. Now she was explaining why she is a big believer of volunteering. She mentioned that when you volunteer, you gain influence and control. It gives you the platform to set the agenda, she said.
However, she added that for volunteering to be effective, one needs to be focussed on others not himself or herself. She said that volunteering needs to be an outward and not inward process. Focus on delivering value for others, solving problems of others. Once you do this, you will in turn benefit a lot, according to her, and I agree.
Then a young man joined in to share his impressive testimonies on volunteering. He told us how as a young first year student, he volunteered to help organise some big campus event, for free. He was given the opportunity and he did it to the best of his ability. Since his performance was so outstanding and the event went on so well, the next year he was asked to organise this annual event again. I asked him if the second time he did it for free again, and he categorically said: “NO!” they paid him for this the second time he organised the event. And third time they hired him again and he went on to do it three or four times.
He also shared with us another similar testimony. He had noticed a high potential artist whose brand was not well known and not as visible in the country. He volunteered to help promote the artist. Within four months, the artist was well known and his brand had been greatly boosted. The young man then went on to organise big events for this great local artist. As they say, the rest is history!
The young man is graduating this year. I asked him if he will be looking for employment or not. He said that he doesn’t need anyone to employ him. He has discovered his talent and his passion. He is now setting up an agency to keep doing what he has learnt on his own, to develop it into a serious business venture and conquer the world. Through volunteering, he has already broken into his market well before finishing his degree!
What do we learn from these two brilliant young Poly students?
Volunteering does not only help those you serve. Volunteering can also have lasting benefits on the volunteer especially in the long term. You can use volunteering to break into the market. You may be finding it difficult to find your job or indeed to spring back to career after a planned or forced career break. By volunteering, you can accelerate your path to breakthrough into the career or business. What you need is to identify the area you want to volunteer in, then spot the problem that you can solve as a volunteer or a needed service that you can provide as a volunteer. Make sure that you leave a mark with your volunteering. Then you will be well on your path to breaking through into the market.
Good luck! n