Very rarely will one find a job offer that does not require one form of experience or another in a field relevant to the vacant position. These requirements continue to be one of the graduates’ greatest predicaments.
Most people are well able to perform a particular task, or so say their academic qualifications, but very few have ever taken the further step of proving such abilities of even trying out work in their field.
The saturation of the work market today requires just that though. The question then arises on what the student especially is to do in order to meet up to the standards that have been set up by employers on prior experience. One measure is that of Volunteering.
In simple terms, Volunteering is generally considered an altruistic activity where an individual or group provides services for no financial gain to benefit another person, group or organization which may have positive benefits for the volunteer as well as for the person or community served.
This means simply that volunteering requires ones sacrifice of time and effort, normally without any form of remuneration, or pay for the contribution made.
But why should you be so eager to take time off of your schedule to assist others for no pay? Many Namibian youth in general have distanced themselves from working for ‘free.’ In their little world, almost everything should be remunerated for.
Samra Aochamus says “it is very relevant for the student to demonstrate their skills and abilities before they actually get into the field… this is good for both the volunteer and the place they decide to work for.” Aochamus is the Internship Programme Coordinator for the University of Namibia’s Information and Communication Studies Department. She states that most students are not completely aware of the nature of the environment in which they take up careers.
Aochamus says “Internships and like programmes help with the realization that the skills we learn in class are very applicable. Its one thing to learn these various skills in class and quite another to have to put them in practice. The significance of being able to make the connection is large.”
She related how most students have the opportunity to acquire various skills that may not be taught in class from being exposed to the working environment. “At times, there are techniques and methods of achieving results that have been developed by various companies, one way of finding out these tactics are by giving your service as an intern for your own good.”
From a students’ perspective, Mitchell Masuka relates to the difficulties of fitting in working hours together with studies. “Sometimes it’s the conflicting timings that discourage us, whereas I know it may be important, just the thought of having to juggle between work and school makes it look like my priorities are not in order.”
She notes that the exposure that a student would get from an attachment is obviously of great value, however noting that it is rather discouraging when such opportunities come without any financial benefits.
Aochamus seconds the existence of this attitude among students who would rather give their service in exchange for a particular token. She says “most times when we advertise an opening for internship somewhere, students first ask if they will get paid.
Places where no form of salary is given are frowned upon, whereas those that give something are looked at as ideal working places.” She however states that this is a misplacement of priorities in itself, “the idea is to get experience that is very useful, in the event that there is a salary, then good, but even if not, students must be willing to still do internships.”
Some students would argue that some volunteering programs are not completely compatible with their fields of study, preferring to rather wait until there are openings in much related sectors. Aochamus however says that most employers are looking for generally applicable skills in employees.
“What matters most is the volunteers’ ability to apply real world skills and not just theory things.” From her experience these programs look to adapt your personality to the environment of due dates, demands and reports and the like.
It cannot therefore be denied that volunteering while studying has far much more advantages than one would imagine. They enable the student to receive a form of exposure that cannot be gotten anywhere else.
It is entirely up to the volunteer to ensure that they build up their Curriculum Vitae and to test their abilities. The skills that are learnt are of great value and count as experience even when seeking employment after graduation, giving the individual more advantage over others.