My first job after NYSC was voluntary. I had always wanted a career in the third sector, so I walked into a not-for-profit organisation to find out if they were hiring, they were not hiring but the Project Manager took my CV and promised to call me if they decided to. Some weeks later she called me for an interview. I went into the interview full of excitement but came out disappointed.
The Executive Director wasn’t convinced I could do the job; I had the knowledge and passion they needed but I didn’t have a formal experience. She made an offer; I could start the job the next week as a volunteer and I will be hired as a Project Coordinator if I performed well.
Everyone I told about the offer thought it was a rip-off, I thought so too. Some of my friends just got jobs, they didn’t have experience too and they were being paid well. Why should I work for free? I had two choices; take the offer and still continue my job search, or stay at home and continue my job search. I chose the first option. It was a wise decision.
I got these seven things that I wouldn’t have if I had stayed at home.
Better CV: I passed the probation and by the time I was leaving the organisation I had a much more better CV than when I joined them. I had acquired a very good work experience.
Clearer Vision: Beyond the raw passion I went in with, I had been able to identify a good career path that I could focus on.
Confidence: I was given a lot of responsibilities to do things I had never done before, doing them successfully gave me a lot of confidence in myself which helped in looking for other jobs.
New Skills: The highlight of the experience for me was that I acquired many transferable skills that remained with me even when I changed jobs and worked in other industries.
Practice: There were so many skills I had learned when I was in school but had never been able to put to work. The experience gave me the opportunity to go beyond ‘knowing’ to ‘doing’.
Wider Network: I worked with colleagues, vendors, volunteers, customers and other stakeholders. By the time I was leaving I have more people on my contact list than I had before.
Satisfaction: Being busy doing something worthwhile while waiting for a paid job was a lot more satisfying than staying at home and feeling like a waste.