Work towards your goal

Unpaid experience is now a must for those interested in working for charities

Fancy doing your bit for the greater good of mankind, and letting those mercenary types head for the rat race and wallow in their decadent, me-first lifestyles?

Fancy doing your bit for the greater good of mankind, and letting those mercenary types head for the rat race and wallow in their decadent, me-first lifestyles?

You might think that landing a job will be easier if you follow your altruistic tendencies. Not so! Even junior level vacancies with charities can attract hundreds of applicants, many with excellent qualifications. Before you get a paid job with the organisation close to your heart, you will probably have to do some unpaid work as a volunteer.

"What many past graduates have found is of invaluable worth to their application is having been a volunteer," says Lyndsay Boswell, Chief Executive of the Institute of Fundraising. "Hollow words, however well meant, at an interview, which aren't backed up by proof of action, won't get you far."

At Barnardo's, for example, where every advertised job attracts a large response, recruitment managers look for evidence of practical skills gained from voluntary work. Head of Communications, Diana Green, who herself worked on Mencap summer play schemes between school and university, says relevant experience will always help an application work its way to the top of a pile.

"We always need extra voluntary help in the summer and our website's 'Work With Us' section details all the different ways you can get involved."

Ailith Roberts, now a Young Carers' Advisor at a Barnardo's project in Leeds, got her job as a result of doing voluntary work with children and teenagers, for the NSPCC and Barnardo's. "When I left college, I didn't have any direct experience working with young people. The grounding I got from the voluntary work built my confidence and gave me the skills I needed to get a permanent job."

At the British Red Cross, too, volunteering is seen as a key item on any applicant's CV. "Volunteer experience would certainly stand a candidate in good stead," explains Rosanna Moses, head of personnel. "It shows initiative, enthusiasm, and a commitment to the values of the sector."

The Red Cross's 2,800 staff employees are helped in their work by 35,000 volunteers, so opportunities are numerous.

In addition to working in one of the organisation's high street shops or collecting money on an appeal day, examples include being a Fire Victim Support worker, or help people getting over illnesses or operations in the Home from Hospital service.

Jon Gater, 21, who's just finished an education degree at Canterbury Christ Church University College, is about to start a full-time job as a youth development manager for the Red Cross in the South-east of England, based in Maidstone. He puts his appointment almost exclusively down to the fact that he worked as a Red Cross volunteer for all of his three years at University.

"I started off doing three hours a week in the Canterbury office, and then became a project worker on a scheme helping refugee children. By the end, I was managing projects and helping set up a new scheme in Dover. Doing voluntary work has opened up a whole new world. Lots of people have degrees, but if you do a little bit more by volunteering, you've got much more chance."

Across the charitable sector, volunteer effort is indispensable and needed all over the country - not just at head office locations. So, there are innumerable opportunities out there for you to take that first step. And, in so doing, you'll be satisfying the altruistic impulse that attracted you to "doing your bit" in the first place.

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
Suited and booted in the Lanvin show at the Paris menswear collections
fashionParis Fashion Week
Arts and Entertainment
Kara Tointon and Jeremy Piven star in Mr Selfridge
tvActress Kara Tointon on what to expect from Series 3
Voices
Winston Churchill, then prime minister, outside No 10 in June 1943
voicesA C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
News
i100
News
An asteroid is set to pass so close to Earth it will be visible with binoculars
news
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch has spoken about the lack of opportunities for black British actors in the UK
film
News
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Student

Ashdown Group: Junior Developer - Cirencester - £29,000

£25000 - £29000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: The Ashdown Group have be...

Ashdown Group: Graduate Data Analyst - Essex - £25,000

£23500 - £25000 per annum + Training: Ashdown Group: Graduate Data analyst/Sys...

Recruitment Genius: Graduate Account Manager

£16000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Graduate Account Manager is r...

Guru Careers: Graduate Account Manager / Sales Executive

£18k + Uncapped Commission (£60k Y1 OTE): Guru Careers: A Graduate Account Man...

Day In a Page

Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project