Why do you volunteer? Maybe because you want to do something good or because you can learn more about the culture of a country? I personally always used it to gain valuable work experience while being able to live and travel in an exciting new place. I wouldn’t have thought that I would end up volunteering in my home country Austria, and even less that the volunteering opportunity with IVY would lead to a full time contract of employment. But that’s exactly what happened.
Six months in Tamsweg
Looking back to when I first arrived, I grew a lot – professionally and personally. My stay here started with a an adventure in Tyrol for two weeks and afterwards I adapted to the work environment of the European Wilderness Society, which is mostly office based these days due to COVID. Nevertheless, it was never boring. New projects, new challenges, and new ideas arose everyday and if you’re keen enough to take up the responsibility, you are more than welcome to do so.
I’m a very ambitious person who doesn’t fear a challenge. Due to this, I offered my help with many different tasks right from the beginning. After no time, my list of things to do was filled and I was happily working on several different projects. I would lie if I would say that I wasn’t aiming for an opportunity after my six months of volunteering would end here. Everybody can dream (and work for it), right?
My personal highlight was moderating an online conference of our LIFEstockProtect project in January. After organising the conference as a team, I was the one welcoming more than 500 people in a virtual conference room and guiding them through the morning. I was scared that technical issues would interfere or that I would say something silly while introducing the next guest. But, as usual, such fears are just in ones head and it I managed to do a great job (according to the feedback I got 😉 ).
Tips for future volunteers
My story shows that a volunteering position can be, with a little luck and hard work, more than a short time experience but rather shape your future. For all future volunteers reading this, I encourage you to make the most of your volunteering position, no matter where this might be. But how? To finish this post, I’ll share with you some tips:
- Don’t underestimate yourself – you are capable of much more than you would give yourself credit for
- Communicate your skills and use them – show your boss what skills you have and how they could compliment certain activities
- Don’t be afraid to ask – asking questions demonstrates interest and helps you to learn and progress
- Participate and propose team activities – show them that you fit well into the team, also on a personal level
- Share with the team your ideas – in a team everybody’s minds compliment each other, no matter if you are a volunteer or long-term employee
- Show your dedication – is there a deadline approaching but working hours are over? An extra hour of work won’t hurt but will for sure show the team your working spirit
- Have fun and talk about it – do you like what you’re doing? Tell your team and celebrate successes together