Importance of Volunteering
The significance of volunteering as a law student cannot be overemphasised. Most law students think that interning is of more import. Yes, interning gives you work experience, develops your hard skills and affords you opportunities to network with people but can easily develop your soft skills or transferrable skills by volunteering. Your soft skills include: communication, problem solving, team work, leadership, flexibility, just to mention a few.
Everyone has at one point in time, volunteered either in church, mosque or helped plan an event. You just have to be able to use the right words to make these things look attractive to a prospective employer, make them align with the requirements of the job, showing that you have something else to bring to the table asides your good grades.
Volunteering helps in honing and accruing the following soft or transferrable skills:
Communication Skills: While volunteering, you get to meet and interact with people. Especially while volunteering to promote a brand, or convince to people attend an event you have to be clear and your message has to be convincing and comprehensive. As a soft skill, communication is not about multiple syllables or rousing speeches. Able communicators can adjust their tone and style according to their audience, comprehend and act efficiently on instructions, and explain complex issues to colleagues and clients alike. Communication is also an important aspect of leadership, since leaders must be able to delegate clearly and comprehensibly.
Team Work: Volunteering to join committees in the planning of an event or seeking solutions to a problem or challenge helps you to work well with people in achieving a common goal. Working in a team towards a common goal requires the intuition and interpersonal wit to know when to be a leader, and when to be a listener. Excellent team players are perceptive, as well as receptive to the criticisms, needs and responsibilities of others.
Multitasking: Unsurprisingly, people can be wary of leaving the comfort zone formed by their repertoire of hard skills. Multitasking is an important soft skills. Combining school work with your volunteering duties shows your flexibility and ability to juggle different tasks and maintain a balance. Employers often seek for this trait in candidates because it shows a willing and upbeat attitude, since many jobs come with the possibility of secondments.
Problem Solving: Problem solving does not just require analytical, creative and critical skills, but a particular mind-set: those who can approach a problem with a cool and level head will often reach a solution more efficiently than those who cannot. This is a soft skill which can often rely on strong teamwork too. Problems need not always be solved alone. The ability to know who can help you reach a solution, and how they can do it, can be a great advantage.
Responsibility: This is a seldom talked about but highly valued soft skill; knowing when to accept criticisms and responsibility for any mistakes you have made demonstrates a level of humility, and a willingness to learn and progress.
Leadership: Leadership is a soft skill you can show even if you’re not directly managing others. Leadership can be thought of as a collection of various other soft skills, such as a general positive attitude and outlook, the ability to communicate effectively, and an aptitude for both self-motivating and motivating others.
WAYS TO VOLUNTEER AND WHAT TO VOLUNTEER FOR
As a law student, you can volunteer for organisations, clubs or bodies within your faculty or department, You could also volunteer for organisations, clubs, NGOs, local and international bodies outside your faculty or department.
You could be a brand ambassador who helps in the reach and engagement of such organisation’s target audience. While publicising an event, cause, organisation, helping with logistics and all sorts, you get to employ and hone the aforementioned soft skills at some point.
If you’re an excellent volunteer or you excel at any task you’re given as a volunteer, people won’t hesitate to recommend you for bigger tasks because your display of hard work or enthusiasm towards a little task shows you’ll excel at an even bigger and challenging task. It’s also a nice addition to your CV or résumé!
If you’ve never seen the need to volunteer, start now! It’s not too late. You’ll be surprised at how much you can achieve in such little time.
What volunteer experience is the most fulfilling of the ones you’ve attained? Share yours in the comment section below.
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