Another Reason to Volunteer
Updated: May 26
Undeniably, volunteering is a great thing to do and there are numerous ways that you can donate your time and expertise. In our law school lives, volunteering at a Community Legal Centre or similar is more or less a must-have. For many students, doing volunteer work is a way of adding some practical experience to CVs and showing partners at law firms that not only are we competent, but that we are competent do-gooders!
But volunteering is also a chance to reflect on what you’d like to do in your post-uni career. While volunteering may not mirror exactly what life will be like as a lawyer or other professional, it offers valuable insights. You will be able to observe whether you prefer working in a team or by yourself, if you like an office environment or prefer changes in scenery and if you like interacting with clients or prefer to do behind the scenes tasks.
Take the opportunity now to think about the lasting impressions your volunteer experience left you with. You may be faced with some positive and negative feelings and a few questions. It is really important that you take the time to reflect on these impressions, feelings and questions. The answer to these may just help you find out what kind of career path is right for you.
If you liked what you saw during your volunteer experience, that’s great. But if, like me, you didn’t, you may want to rethink your aim. One of the best volunteer experiences I have had during my time at university was also the worst experience. I was volunteering at a large organisation that helped counsel people in times of crisis. Each time I left, I felt that what I was doing just wasn’t right for me. The experience was so powerful that it made me change my career plans entirely. I took up the law and never looked back.
So where am I going with this? Use the precious time that you have to volunteer, but use that volunteering opportunity wisely. Invest your time in experiences that will aid your development and may give you an insight into a possible career. You might love the experience or you might hate it, but what’s important is that you reflect on that experience and use it to help choose your path.
Don’t stress if you haven’t volunteered yet. Get active and start looking into what is out there. Be open-minded because you never know what an experience might lead to. When you find something that you are passionate about, go with it and explore it to its full potential!
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