Developing leadership skills can begin at school or university, but I have gained most of my rich life experiences outside of educational environments, by volunteering in various workplaces and communities. Volunteering comes in many forms and is not measured in how much time is donated but, rather, the simple act of giving.
My earliest memory of volunteering was being a class leader in my first grade of primary school. I assisted my teacher to prepare the class, erased the chalk from the blackboard, made sure the class was clean and tidy, led my friends into class and occasionally became a commander on the flag ceremony that was held every Monday morning. I had these roles from 1986, until I finished high school in 1998.
When I started university, my volunteering streak continued. I helped out by welcoming new students, got involved in sports, music and arts and organised alumni reunion events. A highlight was being the chief editor for a monthly student tabloid and organising a national TV reporter to present a seminar for students interested in journalism.
Post-university, I always accepted any job that was available and got involved with community organisations. I have acted as secretary, treasurer, fundraising coordinator, photographer and Master of Ceremony (MC) to name a few roles, and took part singing Christmas carols, assisting with, natural disaster relief, as well as volunteering as a ‘teacher helper’ at my daughter’s school.
25th birthday celebration, Maryborough Heritage Market
In exchange for being exposed to this diversity of opportunities, I learned a lot and developed leadership skills I can now draw on to adapt to and handle different problems. Another advantage of volunteering is that my employers have recognised my abilities and subsequently offered me higher positions within their organisations. I have also been offered the opportunity to attend professional development seminars and represent the organisations I volunteer for at local and national events, at no cost to me.
I have been able to see many great places and meet many interesting and diverse people, not by luck, but from having a go.. My volunteer experience also means I can easily make friends and build up my professional network, but this is not why I volunteer.
Developing leadership skills can begin at school or university, but I have gained most of my rich life experiences outside of educational environments by volunteering in various workplaces and communities.
The biggest reward from volunteering is the immense personal satisfaction I get from helping others, without expectations of receiving something in return. If you expect something in return, you will be quickly disappointed and more likely to give up.
If you’d like to find out more about volunteering, contact USQ’s Careers & Employability Team.