In the blog series Volunteering is Ace Activity, we publish articles on volunteering by students who study volunteer leadership at the HUMAK Open University of Applied Sciences.
I knew that volunteering is significant to me. However, I couldn´t guess that it would be volunteering, through which I would finally find what I want to do as an adult after all these years of drifting.
Throughout my adulthood, I have been a volunteer who knows where, enjoyed it and experienced it as meaningful and rewarding. Never did I think that my future profession could somehow be related to volunteering.
Like so many others, as my children grew up, I also experienced that I had time and resources to volunteer with families with children – this I had dreamt about for a long time.
In my life I have been in situations where I wished that I had had someone to support me in tight spots. Getting used to new foreign countries, having children and raising them in a strange culture without a support network would certainly have been easier if there had been someone to ask for advice or who would at least have tried to understand my confusion. Indeed, many people seek to volunteer encouraged and accompanied by their own experiences, wanting to give as well as get peer support. Also, it is much easier for immigrants to settle and adapt to a new culture when they have a so-called local guide.
As I trained to volunteer, my eyes opened to new opportunities, too.
I had planned to start studying for a long time, so through volunteering it was easier to enroll to study a degree that I didn´t even know existed before. Now my community pedagog studies are near the final stretch at Humak.
The jobs of those working with volunteering seemed interesting. As a volunteer, it was easy to approach my own organization and carry out the practical training related to my studies there, familiarizing myself more with the third sector.
Through my studies, it has been possible to familiarize myself with activities of other organizations and communities, too, and to cooperate with them. This way also my own identity as a volunteer has been shaped and strengthened and it has opened my eyes to a wide range of opportunities in volunteering.
Volunteering offers opportunities to meet new people and create networks for one´s professional future. It´s easier to make your own know-how known when you already have a foot in the door and the faces are familiar.
Who would have believed that all those hours spent on volunteering have been a path to my future profession?
Text: Hanna Van Lennep
The author studied volunteer leadership at the HUMAK Open University of Applied Sciences
Translation: Kati Merikoski