Volunteering or Paid Work? What Should You Be Looking For?

3 minute read

Choosing a career in the charity sector is not something everyone thinks about, but it should be. And don’t worry, it’s normal to not know where to start.  The sector can sometimes be difficult to navigate around if you’re not used to it.

Charites are sometimes thought of as being purely volunteer lead, but this isn’t true. Paid jobs are abundant in the third sector, on CharityJob you can see an average of 4,000+ roles available each month. These jobs could be the path to a fruitful career where the job could really be worthwhile. Graduates and career shifters are increasingly considering careers in the charity sector, finding it fits them better than a corporate career. You may think it has a reputation for being hard to get into, but this is no longer true! Graduate opportunities, training schemes and internships are becoming increasingly available, and graduates are choosing to pursue these openings. Charities are looking to hire the best people, it really could be you!

There are many reasons to volunteer

However, volunteer work can be very rewarding and you shouldn’t disregard starting your charity career with a voluntary position. It may be that volunteer work for a short time fits with your plans, it can even be a way into paid work. Whether it’s voluntary or paid, people choose charity careers for a myriad of reasons: it could be trying something new, making new friends, learning useful and exciting skills. These are all opportunities the charity sector can offer you and includes marketing, fundraising, international development, finance, care and a whole lot more. Have a look here for how much more!

But what about voluntary work, should you still consider it?

The short answer is yes! It will always be useful for you. But it’s up to you really. You’ll certainly gain experience and skills through volunteer work. In certain charity jobs, it can be your way into a paid job, so you may need to consider volunteer work before a paid job is offered.  But more importantly, it’s generally useful, teaching you skills for the world of work and opening up new ideas and concepts, whether you intend to pursue a job in the charity sector or not.

You should think of volunteer work as a chance to explore multiple career paths, whether you’re currently studying or working. Volunteering can be a way of pushing out of your comfort zone, it can also be a great way of learning new things and building up rewarding life experiences. Doing some volunteering can also be a great preparation for the workplace.

What about graduates?

Some graduates do use volunteer work as route into paid employment, most do so for the experience, for the sense of achievement and to give something back. Certain volunteer roles may even give you a chance to travel, organisations like International Citizen Service prove very popular with students and graduates. But it’s not just travel, volunteer work can also be a way to gain qualifications and vital experience.

For some charity jobs, volunteering can be the normal path into paid work, this can be useful, as it allows you to try out a job or sector before committing to a paid role. You should see volunteering as both a way of gaining experience in the sector, and a way of gaining experience in a field you care about.

Where does paid work come in?

Getting a paid job in the sector is the goal of many career-shifters and graduates, due to the exciting range of opportunities which simply cannot be found in the corporate sector. It is amazing opportunity because…well you can get paid to do something you love and be part of change in the world! Internships and graduate schemes are more available than ever, giving graduates a more realistic and solid route into the sector. The types of roles available are quite varied and suit a number of educational backgrounds, including research, campaigning, marketing, project management as well as more typical roles such as finance or admin.

There really are many opportunities available for paid charity work. You should be looking for the right one for you! There will likely be opportunities to suit you. You may be looking for full time, part time or even home-base positions, the charity sector is home to all of these. Perhaps you’re looking for chances to travel, or work flexibly? Once again you may find jobs which fulfill these ambitions. Bear in mind that many charities would rather promote a high performing member of staff than recruit, so you could find opportunities for advancement more open than in the for-profit-sector.

Where to find paid jobs in the charity sector

So, if you’re looking to kick-start a career in the third sector, have a look on the CharityJob website for a role that will suit you. We are the busiest online hub for exploring your options when it comes to charity, fundraising, NGO and not-for-profit jobs. Whether you’re looking for a graduate position or temporary role, we have over 4000 positions waiting to be explored. Visit our site to find charity jobs AND volunteer roles.

Remember to sign up to CharityConnect to join the sector’s largest network, where you can connect with people who are passionate about what they do. So sign up and connect with likeminded individuals, as well as influential people in the sector.

Sanjay Bheenuck

Former Content and SEO Lead at CharityJob. Writer of obscure fiction and global wanderer in my spare time.

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