Often times, most jobseekers have little or no idea about smarter ways to get a job, and so they confine themselves to waiting for vacancy adverts before they can file applications and they lose sight of the opportunity of volunteering offers. Apart from getting hands-on experience needed by employers, volunteering provides a jobseeker with what to fix on a CV. Also, volunteers have first-hand information when there is an opening and who is in charge of recruiting. In addition, most organizations consider their volunteers for employment because they are beginning to learn the culture and values of the organization, except where their volunteers are not the ideal match for the opening. Furthermore, in most cases, volunteers do not have the same work schedule. Volunteers enjoy a meager allowance; this could take care of the cost of filling applications and postages. Besides, there is honour in going out and coming in, and this saves one from idleness, and being a suspect when something is missing in the surroundings.

Mandira Paul, a Swedish volunteer in Nigeria shares her experience:

Mandira Paul

I’m a biomedicine student in Sweden, and I have spent these last six weeks in Jos, Nigeria. I’ve come here to gain experience, learn a new culture and hopefully share my culture and experiences from my country. I’ve spent most of the summer together with a student run organization called AIESEC working on project ASK. This is a project where we go out to secondary schools to teach students about HIV/AIDS and related topics. It’s been a lot of fun, interesting and very challenging at the same time. The project is now finished and my remaining time here will be spent working together with Mashiah foundation. This is to be able to see how an NGO works and to hopefully reach out to people and perhaps teach them a little something.

Since coming here, a lot of students residing in Jos keep telling me how jealous they are of me being able to work with an NGO, travel to villages, meet HIV-infected people and gain experience at the same time, making a difference. The thing is, just because I’m from Sweden doesn’t make me more useful here; I would say it’s the opposite. Everyone and anyone can apply to work as a volunteer. It is needed and not only does it give you the opportunity to help other people, it also give you something to write on your resume, that will make you unique when applying for a job. Instead of sitting at home, witing to get admission into the university or waiting for the strike to be over, go and gather knowledge elsewhere. There is a lot to learn.

In Sweden, many youths start working at the age of 16. They work in clothes’ stores, supermarkets, within telemarketing, etc,–basically anything that doesn’t require a higher education. Secondary school finishes the year you turn 18 or 19 and after that, most graduates choose to work for at least one year, in order to gain experience and knowledge. Because if you finish your university degree and apply for a job, one of the first things the employer will ask you about is your work experience. So working or volunteering in an NGO would actually combine work experience, making a difference and a forum for you to learn and develop as a person.

My two months here have been amazing, and I can’t wait to come back here to continue my work, so I hope to see you in the field someday.

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