Volunteering helps to get back into their work field

By Juliano Oliveira

The long meetings flooded with numbers and financial projection slides have given way to an unexplored world for Yasmin Adams, 42. The former Mexican accountant of one of the world’s biggest auditing companies works now as a cleaner in a Brisbane shopping centre.

There is no drama in that, as she likes to highlight. When the subject is Yasmin’s professional goals, however, her manner of speech changes to a more serious tone. “I want to get a job in my field, that is why I’m volunteering to help people with their tax returns”, she says.

Yasmin is aiming to flight higher in the future
Yasmin is aiming to flight higher in the future

A successful immersion into the Australian workforce starts, firstly, with an unpaid opportunity. According to Seek.com.au, 95% of employers agreed that volunteering can be a credible way of gaining real work experience to add to a resume.

“…Newly arrived in Brisbane, I needed someone to help me. Now, by doing volunteering, I want to give back all the things that I have been receiving”, affirms Yasmin whose resume has been boosted after the training provided by the company that she is volunteering for.

The experience of helping others grants meaning, a sense of self-worth, a social role, and health enhancement. As the work market is in a constant state of change, building a solid network may increase the chances of jumping from a volunteering position to a permanent one.

“A high number of executives consider an unpaid job extremely valuable as an experience. Volunteers always show a lot of other skills– someone who works hard, uses their own initiative and causes a very positive impact. This experience helps to create contacts”, explains the volunteer services manager of Volunteering Queensland, Sabina Nowak.

There seems to be a certain reluctance among companies in advertising paid positions, with only a small fraction published online. Ms Nowak says that a large number of professionals fill these jobs through networking.

Sabina deals with potential volunteers daily

“We have got some doctors who want to work in their field, but their Australian registrations have not come through yet. So, they can apply for other sorts of roles, for example, by joining a volunteer first aid organisation and receiving training as a paramedic -gaining new skills, expanding networks, so, once their registration is finalised, they will have extra experience with Australian employers”, says Sabina.

After five years working in the sales industry on the Gold Coast and in Brisbane, the Indian-born Archana Vijay, 36, saw in volunteering, the opportunity to get back on track with her career. The outcome of volunteering exceeded her expectations.

“Once I got the volunteering position, I started meeting new people and getting more knowledge about my skills. In one year, I received three different job offers for a paid position. Currently, I’m working as a records and member services advisor in a permanent role”, Ms Archana says “With between six months and one year of volunteering, you will see how the employability levels will increase as well as the confidence”, she concludes.

According to the ABS (Australian Bureau of Statistics) Census 2016, there are currently 714,138 volunteers in Queensland, or 18.8% of the population – 95% of volunteers say that volunteering is related to feelings of well-being. This practice was worth $11.6 billion to the Queensland economy in 2014.

Are you interested in volunteering? Check out some positions available at Volunteering Queensland.