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Insider Story: Internships as a volunteer

Insider Story: Internships as a volunteer

Ever thought about gaining experience within your field as a volunteer? Ever wondered if it is really worth it or what the benefits are?
I have mentioned it before, and will mention it again – Experience is essential! To attain jobs and opportunities in the future you need to be able to build the foundations of your career, TODAY! The only way to show potential employers that you are perfect for the job is to have a track record of experience, and with no experience (yes, we know it sounds strange), the solution is internships, volunteering or work experience. If you have doubts about what a volunteer position or internship can do for you then read Stephanie’s story. Stephanie Fiteni, a graduate Law Student at La Trobe University, shares her story and experiences, and why she values volunteer positions, with InternMe. Starting out – When? Why? How? I joined the Family Court as a Referral Attendant in March 2015, shortly after commencing a Bachelor of Laws at La Trobe University. Previously, I volunteered at a Family Law firm while completing a Bachelor of Legal Studies. While volunteering at the firm, I realized that I wanted to gain entrance into a law degree and pursue a career within the Family Law sector. The complexity of family law was interesting to learn, especially how the law affects society. Not long after I was accepted to do a law degree and classes had begun, I became concerned that Internship opportunities would be scarce and there may not be enough positions. However, not long afterwards, La Trobe Law School published a Referral Attendant position with Victorian Family Law Pathways Network (VFLPN). VFLPN has a kiosk at the Family Court, assisting family law clientele to locate a service such as family consultancy, mediation and financial assistance. Accordingly, volunteers are required to promptly assist the Court’s clientele to locate a service that best suits them. Networking and engagement One of the many things that I have learned as a Referral Attendant is the importance of networking. I can’t stress enough how often someone you have met within your employment or Internship becomes beneficial to you. Engaging with others within VFPLN and at the court has provided me with meaningful insights about various fields of work. As part of the opportunity, VFLPN provides information sessions for students to enhance their knowledge on how the law affects those around us. This knowledge has assisted me to think about what specificities I would like to practice in (or not practice in). Similarly, whether you’re a law student or not, engaging within your network opens your perspective that may result in affirming or re-steering your career goals. You may even meet someone who can provide you with helpful employment advice on gaining an Internship for a particular place of interest. It’s all a learning curve As I have been once told before, volunteering and Internships are all a learning curve. Some students tend to be nervous that they are not ‘ready’ for an Internship. Are my grades high enough? Can I complete an Internship to my best capabilities? Will I fit in with their work culture? These sorts of questions do more harm than good, if you let them get to you, and employers can often tell during an interview. When I applied to become a Referral Attendant, I had the same questions floating in my mind. However, I aimed to display a sense of self-belief, as should all students. Confidence is the key. While it is easier said than done, do remember that employment opportunities are all a learning curve. Mistakes do happen. A student doesn’t know the same depth of knowledge as their future boss and that’s okay. Students should seek Internship opportunities because it develops their capability to place theory into practice. So, if a mistake does happen, you can learn from it and become better within your position. As long as you are willing to learn, your career should be moving in an upward direction. I value my volunteer opportunity because I have been able to network within my field, gain an insight about various Internships and places of interest, and learn how theory can be used in practice. This sort of knowledge can’t be found elsewhere – it’s a part of my own personal experience, which will always be invaluable. If you have any further questions regarding Stephanie’s story or a similar story you would like to share, please feel free to email us at [email protected].

Comment (1)

Adsman

Great read. Its hard to get experience without having experience!

4 years ago