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to be getting fed up with working for free?

(31 Posts)
samandi Thu 01-Nov-12 14:27:41

Before, during and now - after - university I have volunteered at various organisations to fill gaps in my cv. Spent hundreds of pounds on travel. Debatable whether it's actually giving me an advantage in the job market. Is anyone else in a similar position? Is it worth it?

maybenow Thu 01-Nov-12 14:31:26

it's been many years since i graduated but my first job was in a place where i did an unpaid internship.

and, i interview new graduates in my industry and i've pretty much always ended up taking on those who either have industry-specific voluntary experience or who have a very low-paid entry level pt job in our industry. pt jobs in starbucks etc show work ethic but don't really help with understanding the industry we're in.

p.s. I am a freelance consultant now and i still do a bit of 'pro bono' work to keep contacts and skills in particular organisations.

FunBagFreddie Thu 01-Nov-12 14:34:02

YANBU, but also YABU.

A recruitment consultant told me that voluntary work can reflect badly badly on you. Prospective employers can think "Oh look, they obviously can't get a proper job, something must be wrong with them". He said not to put unpaid work on your CV, unless stating it as a hoby alongside paid work.

On the other hand, I have seen otherwise, and some people who volunteer with an organisation for a long time end up with paid jobs. Some employers say it does look good on CV's.

FunBagFreddie Thu 01-Nov-12 14:35:00

I meant very badly, not badly badly. blush

maybenow Thu 01-Nov-12 14:36:04

hmm... i think it must depend on the sector - OP, what sort of area of work are you talking about.

I am in the cultural sector and voluntary experience is pretty much a 'must'.

samandi Thu 01-Nov-12 14:36:48

Freddie - yes, that's what I'm getting worried about. People go on about how beneficial it is etc. etc. but at some stage surely employers wonder why I'm not doing paid work. Something's obviously wrong with me :-(

samandi Thu 01-Nov-12 14:39:46

maybenow - biology/ecology

WelshMaenad Thu 01-Nov-12 14:40:15

I don't think voluntary work is worth doing for cv credit. It's only worth doing if you feel passionately about it.

I have volunteered for The Samaritans. In a recent interview got my ideal job, I was able to talk about it enthusiastically and make genuine links between my volunteer work and the required skillset for the role. I got the job. I was told afterwards that their decision was influenced by my obvious passion and commitment, not just because I ticked boxes.

Do something you care about, it will set you apart.

JellyBelly10 Thu 01-Nov-12 14:40:31

Before I had children I wouldn't have dreamt of volunteering, I got a job straight from university and turned into a capitalist Thatcherite overnight! grin. But it was a very different job-market back then in the mid-90s and I just didn't need to volunteer. However, fast-forward a decade and I gave up work to have kids, spent 8 years not working at all and then thought I'd quite like a part-time job that would fit around school hours! Funnily enough that wasn't terribly realistic given that the world had plunged into recession and all that! So it was volunteering that saved the day! I volunteered in my children's school regularly and then was able to put that voluntary experience on job applications and earlier this year got a job as a Teaching Assistant which fits perfectly around my children's school hours. Without the volunteering I wouldn't have had any relevant experience and wouldn't have stood a chance. So volunteering is definitely worth doing as it stands you apart from other applicants who just don't ahve any practical experience to put on their CV.

samandi Thu 01-Nov-12 14:43:08

I don't think voluntary work is worth doing for cv credit. It's only worth doing if you feel passionately about it.

Hmm, well I do feel quite positively about the work in general. I just feel fed up with not getting paid after so long spent working and trying to get paid work. It's souring the way I feel about the concept of volunteering. If that makes any sense.

samandi Thu 01-Nov-12 14:45:19

JellyBelly - I think the problem is that I don't stand out because of it, because everyone is doing it! If they can't get a job that is. And those that have paid experience have more of an advantage.

Congrats on your job though :-)

BookFairy Thu 01-Nov-12 14:47:44

samandi YANBU. Last winter I undertook an internship with a literary agent in London. My family live up north so I spent a huge amount of money on travel, living expenses, and had to claim Housing Benefit to cover rent. The agent was only interested in making herself money, not helping her 4 graduate interns find paid work.

I had to move back in with my parents and since January I've volunteered at Child Contact Centres, with disabled children, homeless women, women ex-offenders, a charity shop, and recently started at a service for drug addicts. I've just started paid work - 14hrs per week in additional support at an FE College. I had 4 interviews in the field I'm interested in but don't have enough experience to beat the competition. I'm at an absolute loss as to what I should do next. I took my current job as the job centre wanted to send me to work 40hrs per week at a charity shop.

Sorry this is so long blush

whizmum Thu 01-Nov-12 14:52:30

Samandi, I was in your position 25 years ago. It has always been difficult in that area. I don't know how people get their jobs - you must ask the people you volunteer with what they did.

I did a post grad vocational course in secretarial and business skills as a way to broaden my horizons.

FunBagFreddie Thu 01-Nov-12 14:54:31

samandi - I don't know how many people think the same as that recruitment consultant. I was taken aback by what he told me, as it seemed to go against conventional wisdom.

NicknameTaken Thu 01-Nov-12 14:55:33

You have my sympathies. It's a tough job market.

That said, I recently applied for a job with a specific organisation, and it went to someone who was already voluteering there. It can help, but it's not a guaranteed route to employment. I'm not sure what is, these days.

samandi Thu 01-Nov-12 15:17:43

bookfairy - not long :-) Good luck with everything. Hopefully the job at the college will improve your prospects?

samandi Thu 01-Nov-12 15:19:21

whizmum - I think it's luck! People working where I've volunteered have been there for years too. Either that or they have PhDs.

maybenow Thu 01-Nov-12 15:26:49

Samandi - i guess the question would be 'what is the alternative?'

If you have graduated and are unemployed then you can:
a) apply for every relevant job going pretty much full-time (i'm guessing there arent' enough relevant vacancies for this)
b) apply for every relevant job going while doing relevant voluntary work
c) apply for irrelevant and non-graduate jobs
d) apply for more specific post-grauate training
e) sit around watching daytime tv
f) SAHM if relevant

Personally i reckon every option except (e) is reasonable depending on your circumstances.

samandi Thu 01-Nov-12 15:47:49

hi maybenow

re the alternatives:

a) i'm restricted in location, but have done this within a reasonable commute
b) done this
c) done this, to an extent
d) am considering this and have even had an offer ... but because of location, opportunities unfortunately are limited
e) would rather sit around reading my mound of unread books! which is partly what i am doing today :-)
f) yes, this is what everyone thinks i may as well do in the circumstances ... even though i don't want kids yet and have never wanted to be a sahm


Iodine Thu 01-Nov-12 16:10:41

I used to volunteer for the Samaritans. I went for an interview and mentioned it (as it had skills I could transfer to the job) and all they were concerned about was whether it would get in the way of me doing unpaid overtime in their shitty job.

BookFairy Thu 01-Nov-12 17:02:54

samandi I'm not sure really as I did a very similar job with teenagers before I got my degree. I wanted to work in a Leaving Care team or with families at Contact Centres. I don't have any specific experience of working with teenagers leaving care and local services can't afford to give me my work experience. I help at a Contact Centre but we don't write reports, which is why I've missed out on paid positions. All feels a bit hopeless really as I'm nearly 27 and lots of friends of a similar age are in secure careers.

samandi Thu 01-Nov-12 17:10:08

BookFairy - ha! I'm early 30's. At your age I was still studying :-)

Sorry, that's not very helpful :-(

TheSmallPrint Thu 01-Nov-12 17:12:39

I think it depends what the work is. I worked for free for a year during the last recession as work was impossible to get but it meant that I got the experience. If the voluntary work is not in your field then I would question it's usefulness on your CV.

samandi Thu 01-Nov-12 17:13:44

TheSmallPrint - yes, voluntary work is in my field. Wouldn't be doing otherwise!

TheSmallPrint Thu 01-Nov-12 19:56:48

Sorry, I got the impression that maybe it was charitable work rather than your work in connection with your career. In which case I would say its useful, I doubt people would judge you for it particularly during a recession.

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