Insights into Volunteering – good for you, good for your career.

In recognition of National Volunteer Week in May the Skills and Jobs Centre held an ‘Insights into Volunteering’ industry panel where participants heard from 3 local organisations in the volunteering sector – Volunteering Geelong, Diversitat and Karingal/St. Laurence. They discussed their organisations, types of volunteering, what they look for in a volunteer and the process to become one. Here is a brief rundown of the key points mentioned during the session.

Volunteering Geelong

Volunteering Geelong is the peak body for volunteering in the Geelong region covering City of Greater Geelong, Golden Plains, Surf Coast and the Colac Otway Shires with over 400 organisations registered with them. They have successfully matched over 5,000 volunteers to relevant organisations, as Jason Doherty the Acting Manager light-heartedly called it, “Volunteer Dating”. They will assist a potential volunteer by matching them with a suitable organisation that would benefit from the volunteers time, skills, abilities or interests and provide them both with all the information and support needed during their volunteering commitment.  Right now is a great time to get in contact with Volunteering Geelong with over 450 current vacancies for volunteers listed on their website.

People can volunteer their time anywhere from:

  • Arts/Culture/Heritage
  • Children & Youth
  • Disability Services
  • Education
  • Emergency Services
  • Environment/Conservation
  • Ethnic Community
  • Health
  • Human Rights
  • Recreation
  • Seniors/Aged Care
  • Projects
  • Events

In 2012 Volunteering Geelong also introduced ‘Bite-Size Volunteering’, a program designed for people who are unable to commit to regular volunteering. ‘Bite-Size Volunteering’ offers flexible or project based volunteering where you work on a short term project at times and days that suit you and the organisation.

As long as you meet the minimum age requirement of 15 and pass required Police checks then there is no limit what you can do and how old you can be as a volunteer, depending on the need. You can even volunteer to help volunteers!

Diversitat

Diversitat is a not-for-profit organisation and charity also known as Geelong Ethnic Communities Council and they offer services in refugee/migrant settlement, community development, youth services, aged support, training as well as various arts and events. Diversitat also manage The Pulse radio, Wholefoods café, The Oppe Shoppe, Diversitat Training and run events such as The Pako Festa.

According to Monica Baulch from Diversitat, they currently have 600 volunteers registered with them and approximately 1600 clients but there is always a need for more volunteers and there are many ways in which you can help. Often a volunteer is needed to provide a link to the community for refugees and migrants with programs such as the Orientation Program where volunteers assist with basic skills like using public transport or their ‘Homework Club’ where volunteers help children with their school readers. A volunteer can also assist with home tutoring, the 12 week ‘Driver Practice Program’, the ‘Housing Support Program’ or even with netball, soccer, yoga and other sports.

Monica stated the process for becoming a volunteer with Diversitat takes between 6 to 8 weeks and includes a satisfactory police check, an interview, reference checks and cultural awareness training. To be successful a volunteer will need to be passionate about making a difference, be able to share their personal skills and ways they can help, be empathetic, have no prejudices and be able to build relationships through a 12 month commitment.

Diversitat will see the arrival of 200 – 300 new refugee clients in the upcoming months so if you think this could be a perfect fit for you then I highly recommend you give them a call or attend their next information session in July.

(KSL) Karingal / St. Laurence

Karingal and St. Laurence have recently merged after being 2 separate entities to become KSL, a not-for-profit organisation which provides many support services in disability, aged care, mental health and related services and training.  They are located through-out Victoria, Queensland and South Australia providing support for people to engage in the community.

Maddie Kirwan from KSL stated that some of the important ways that you can volunteer with them is with their “buddy system” which involves spending time with their clients via shared interests. This could include simply going to the park or the movies or the art gallery or just any activity you both enjoy, KSL also accept volunteers in their ‘Do Care’ Program in their Aged Care section where people are asked to volunteer on a monthly basis. To be successful in becoming a volunteer for KSL you must possess a passion for assisting clients achieve their individual goals, must show empathy, reliability, understanding, care and be flexible to client needs. Volunteers are expected to commit at least 2 hours per week for a 12 month period to provide consistency in building relationships with their clients.

KSL’s process for becoming one of their volunteers is through making an enquiry, an interview and then subsequent application where you will be required to undergo a ‘Police Check’ and obtain a ‘Working With Children Check’. KSL will provide various training elements and ongoing support to all their volunteers to ensure the best quality support possible.

Why should you volunteer?

The benefits of volunteering can be endless in not only the satisfaction of helping others in need, improving your own mental and physical health but also in developing avenues to employment. Studies show some of these benefits include;

  • gaining new skills and knowledge
  • possible pathways to employment
  • networking and building relationships
  • providing career/work experience
  • enjoying a sense of achievement and fulfilment
  • personal development and improving self-confidence
  • enhancing social skills and work skills
  • enjoying better physical and mental health
  • connecting to and better understanding your community
  • bringing meaning and purpose to your life

If you feel like you would like to get involved as a volunteer or believe you have something to offer, then I encourage you to get in contact with any of these organisations or speak with the friendly staff at The Skills and Jobs Centre who can guide you in the right direction.

Quote – “The best way to not feel hopeless is to get up and do something. Don’t wait for good things to happen to you. If you go out and make some good things happen, you will fill the world with hope, you will fill yourself with hope.”  Barack Obama

Contacts:

Volunteering Geelong

(03) 5221 1377

http://www.volunteeringgeelong.org.au/home/

Diversitat

(03) 5221 6044

http://diversitat.org.au/contact/

Karingal/St. Laurence

(03) 5249 8900

http://www.karingal.org.au/

Don’t think it.. Do it!!

I was reading a blog recently about a 3-minute fix for procrastination.  I am a terrible procrastinator and I thought it might help me.

Within minutes however, I was analysing the blog itself. Was it really just a lot of American psychobabble, or was I really that avoidant? Consequently I started to trawl online for several other sites, looking for a more authoritative voice about why I might over think things before I start. Wow, that really lead to further procrastination. Was I too scared to start things because I might fail, or was I afraid of the responsibilities I may have if I succeed?

Within an hour, I had a million reasons in front of me as to why I might find it hard to get started and the 3-minute fix to procrastination had expanded to a 90-minute psychological assessment of my life.  My original task nowhere in sight!

I suppose the reason I share this with you is because clients often come to our Centre stuck in a cycle of procrastination too, “ Will it be the right job?”, “Should I have taken that course?”,  “ What if I am under qualified?”, “What if I fail?”, “What if it leads nowhere?” and around again until it can become crippling. In truth none of us can really predict the future, and there are no guarantees in life, however the benefit of taking some time out to reflect, or chatting to a career counsellor may help you to get off the treadmill of overthinking.

Recently in one of my mindfulness classes we were introduced to the concept of the 3-minute breathing space, to calm and refocus our minds. Many assume mindful meditation is a state of hypnotic navel gazing that transports you to enlightenment or nirvana via your deity of choice. This is not the case. The 3-minute breathing space does not take you to nirvana, comes with no candles or music and has no deity. It is a down to earth, realistic tool that can get you refocused in under 3 minutes.

Sounds ridiculous I hear you say, or only for “those” people you might scoff, but simply slowing down your breathing, acknowledging your surrounds and breathing into the moment can ground you to take action.

Breathing is the most powerful tool you have to calm yourself for any challenging circumstance and its free and fully available.

You might need to do it prior to an interview, to get started on that application or to deal with a difficult moment or person in your life.

All you need is stillness, oxygen, and a willingness to step outside of your chatty mind.

I have used the 3 minute breathing space waiting for medical appointments, in the car at school pick up, whilst trying to refocus on my projects, and even waiting for friends in a café. I actually breathed myself so well into my happy space while waiting in that café that I became annoyed with the waiters perpetually asking me for an order. Didn’t they know I came to cafes to breathe, not drink coffee???

This fear of the “what ifs”, or the “should I’s” as mentioned earlier, can literally permeate the brain and keep people from taking action. Metaphorically speaking we are far more scared of letting the light in, than the light itself. So taking the first step to start that resume, book that appointment or sign up for that course will not be so hard once you physically make a start. Sometimes the fear of actually finding that you may have success in a new career or job can be as scary as staying stuck in the same place. We can be equally afraid of living up to our potential and greatness as well as failing miserably because both come with responsibilities and expectations we have of our peers and ourselves.

Without a doubt a job transition or career change can be challenging or even brutal. But if we are not a little brave by taking a punt or two, we may sit in a state of flux and/or procrastination for a very long time.  We are talking small steps here, not leaping tall buildings in a single bound.  If we acknowledge that it might take time and we might need assistance it makes it so much easier.  So, the 3 minute fix for procrastination may not be the only solution, but using the 3 minute breathing space, physical exercise, a companion to keep you on track, a mentor, diarising your time or just being honest with yourself may get your started again.

As some rather large well known footwear organisation says, “Just do it!”

There is nothing to fear but fear itself, and your career is in your hands.

For really practical tips see the following articles.

1. Why you procrastinate and how to stop it

2. The 3-minute breathing space, your opportunity to practice

Written by Erika, our Workshop Wizard. If you need some help getting on track, book an appointment with Erika or any of the Skills and Jobs Centre advisors.

Picture credit: jill111CC0 1.0 Universal (CC0 1.0)

It’s good for you, your community & your career..

Volunteering – Good for you, good for your community and good for your career….

Did you know volunteering is not only a great way to do something good for others, it’s also good for your career and your well-being?

Benefits:

Well-being:  Volunteering can bring meaning and purpose into your life providing you with a natural sense of accomplishment.  According to research, being helpful to others delivers immense pleasure. Human beings are hard-wired to give to others. The more we give, the happier we feel.

Career Direction: If you’re in the middle of a career change or unsure of a new path or direction; volunteering can be a great opportunity to try some new fields or types of work.

Skill development: Volunteering can provide you with the opportunity to practice important skills and develop transferable skills used in the workplace, such as teamwork, communication and problem solving.

Resume: If there has been some time since leaving your last job, fill some of the gaps on your resume. Showcase your new skills and experience!  You’ll also be able to demonstrate that you’re reliable, experienced and organised.

NetworkingBy volunteering, you will expand your network, make new friends and potentially gain exposure to professional organisations to boost your career.

Finding the right organisation and volunteer role that meets your requirements and one that you will enjoy is the key!  Ask yourself:

  • What causes are important to you? What’s your passion?
  • What types of volunteer roles and organisations are you interested in? Do your research.
  • How much time can you commit?
  • What skills can you bring?
  • Do you want to try something new?

12 Days of Christmas – Here are some volunteer stories and personal journeys to inspire you.

Where can I find the opportunities?

Volunteering Geelong – helps match volunteers with organsiations needing help

Volunteering in the City of Greater Geelong – Explore the volunteer options and join the team

Go Volunteer – has a large range of volunteer roles including one off, short term and long term opportunities

What are you waiting for, start exploring now.  Good luck!

Written by Lucinda, our new Networking Superstar. If you would like some assistance with finding a good volunteer opportunity for you, make a time to talk to Lucinda or any of The Skills and Jobs Centre advisors. 

A pocket guide to hAPPiness!

Keeping the blues at bay in the elusive job search

It is well documented that job loss (along with divorce, death, illness and moving house) is one of life’s major stresses.

It may not be as devastating or long lived as some of the above, but it often contributes to loss of self esteem, confidence, family harmony and financial security.

Retrenchment, workplace bullying, long-term unemployment or even a required career change, can leave you confused, angry, disappointed or lost. You may find yourself bombarded with well meaning suggestions and ideas from friends and services that may not be what you want or need at that particular time.

As compassionate and astute career counsellors we know that in conjunction with job guidance and vocational support sometimes you need additional assistance to keep upbeat and on track. Whether that be through professional health services, therapeutic avenues, exercise programs or life coaching, the important thing is that it works for you. That’s the only thing that matters.

Recently I have discovered the power of therapeutic Apps.

For me at present it’s the mindfulness meditation application (app), Headspace, which has been great. There are hundreds of free or minimal cost apps that are like having your own personal support team in your pocket.

There are apps for motivation, positive thinking, setting your goals, meditation and getting through depression or anxiety. The same way an app may be used to regulate your exercise, these apps help to regulate your mind and mood.

Personally, I love face to face support and guidance when I need it, but the brilliance of being able to access online apps, forums and support programs confidentially anytime, anywhere can do wonders for your well-being.

To start you off try Mind Health Connect, an Australian site with lots of online suggestions. I found the best thing was just to type in your interest, find a related app, and try them on for size. It is not a one size fits all scenario, so explore, taste and see what’s right for you.

Best of luck and Happy apping!

Written by Erika, our Workshop Wizard. If you are struggling with a career decision, book in an appointment or workshop with one of our advisors.