Volunteering looks good on your CV, develops skills and makes a difference to people’s lives. If you have the time, then do it, says Devon Hamilton. Student Volunteering Week is coming up next week.
Running between lectures, meetings, and fundraising events is all in a day’s work for business student Devon Hamilton- and she absolutely loves it.
Devon Hamilton with four year old Mischa, a Ronald McDonald House guest.
“Working 25 hours a week and studying fulltime is definitely a truckload. But I’ve learnt time management skills and to how to prioritize,” she says.
Between studying for a Bachelor of Applied Management (Event Management/ Marketing and Sales) at Ara Institute of Canterbury, and working part-time as Fundraising Coordinator for Ronald McDonald House South Island, twenty-one year old Hamilton balances a busy schedule.
“I thought it would be good to get some volunteering experience to run alongside my degree, so I started volunteering with Ronald McDonald House this time last year. Then when the organisation had a reshuffle they designed the Fundraising Coordinator role, I applied and was lucky enough to get the job!” Hamilton says.
For Hamilton the desire to give back was personal.
“I knew about Ronald McDonald House because I stayed there when I was younger, and my brother had cystic fibrosis. We were one of the first families to use the facilities at the Cashel Street house.”
The third-year student credits the interactive learning style Ara delivers for aiding her smooth transition into the workplace.
“I noticed straightaway in my job that I was doing things I had been taught. It’s very satisfying when you find yourself applying knowledge and skills which you have learnt in your degree. It makes all your hard work just that much more rewarding.”
Hamilton says working with a charity opened her eyes to different ways she could apply her education, which she had not yet considered.
“When I first chose marketing I definitely pictured myself in a big corporate setting, however, I didn’t know all the different paths that marketing could take you. At Ronald McDonald House I work with a really small team, which is very collaborative and involved. It definitely ticks all the boxes for me in terms of where I see myself working in the future.”
Hamilton says it’s rewarding seeing the importance of the charity in the community, as a safe haven for families who have a child in hospital.
“You can bump into someone in the supermarket and they’ll say ‘we stayed there’ – that’s really amazing, just to see how many families we’ve been able to impact and provide for. That’s a highlight for me. It definitely proves why we’re here.”
Now that she’s seen the power of volunteering first-hand and from behind-the-scenes Hamilton is a strong advocate for others to volunteer, even if only for a couple of hours.
“It’s something that will be great experience for you and look really good on your CV. In addition, the flow-on impacts that volunteering can have are huge. As part of a charity I know that volunteers are literally at the heart and soul of everything we do. To me they’re as important as our CEO and our front of house staff. So if you have the time, then do it. It’s one of those things that you’ll never regret.”
The national campaign Student Volunteer Week will run this month from 16-22 April, to encourage students to give volunteering a go and to celebrate those who are already involved in making a difference as volunteers.