Volunteer to career: a candidate’s journey

Finding your first job in a new sector is exciting and daunting all at the same time. At CharityJob we are always encouraging candidates to look to voluntary work to build up their CV’s, gain relevant experience and maybe turn those roles into fully fledged careers. But just how do you do that?

Turning your voluntary position into a paid role may sound like a bit of a challenge. But it IS doable – and can be a great route into the sector. We know you may feel slightly hesitant to believe us, so this time we’ve brought proof.

In this post, Neeleema Boodhram shares with us how she went from volunteer to career. Neeleema turned her voluntary role with the Children and Young People’s helpline into her very first role in the charity sector. And she wants you to know that you can do it too!

Was working in the charity sector something you had been thinking about for a while?

No… It hadn’t really crossed my mind until I started looking for volunteering opportunities and came across the wide range of roles in the charity sector!

What volunteering roles were you previously doing?

My first ever volunteering role was with a Children and Young People’s (CYP) helpline. I felt that as a young person myself, there were times when I could have used a pair of ears so, this motivated me to be there for other CYP and provide support.

Were you volunteering with the hope of turning it into a career or was it purely to volunteer?

I initially started with the motivation of purely gaining work experience while I took a gap year from university but then really gained a lot out of Volunteering and started considering it as a career!

What did you do to start making it clear to your manager that you wanted a paid position and to make yourself stand out as a great candidate?

I was committed to the role; I always tried to help out additionally wherever I could and although this may seem more common sense than anything, I expressed my intention to the staff team when I knew I wanted this to be my career. I was also quite flexible and tried to make myself as useful as possible!

Do you still currently work for the same charity? How are you enjoying your role?

No, I have moved on since but very much enjoyed my role there as a staff member. I was also able to grow and develop and stepped into my first management role at the same charity so as you can imagine it still holds a very special place in my heart!

What do you love most about your job?

I currently work for a Helpline, supporting Volunteers and I love speaking to our Volunteers and getting to know them and their experiences! Having started my journey as a volunteer myself, I can very much relate to them, and the initial experience of expressing an interest in being a volunteer to going through the training process and becoming one! No one day in my role is ever the same and I am always thinking about ways of being innovative and improving volunteers’ experience with us.

Is there any advice you would give to others hoping to achieve the same as you and go from volunteer to career?

Be committed and reliable – this says a lot about you as a person and is one of the basic things an employer will look for in any future employee! Also, make yourself stand out, the job market is quite competitive, so if you can get involved in other aspects of the organisation, then go for it. Expressing your ideas and showing your passion for the cause of the charity will make it clear that you have an interest in being more than a volunteer with them!

Check out our volunteer roles today. And who knows, maybe it will your first step into a career in the charity sector.

Georgina D'Souza

Junior Marketing Executive at CharityJob. Lover of cat-related memes.

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