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Avoiding the traps of voluntary work

February 7, 2013

I wrote recently about 10 reasons to do volunteer work.

With volunteering, you can connect with your passion and help out in an area that you feel strongly about. If done right, volunteering can be of great mutual benefit, to you, the organisation you volunteer with, and your community.

But volunteering isn’t for everyone. And there are times it’s not a good idea.  WikiHow has a great list of things to consider before you volunteer.

Volunteering should not be confused with work trials  – where you work for free to get training or in the hope of proving yourself a good worker, to get a reference, or maybe a job.

Work trials should be short and to the point. If you are doing boring work for an organisation you don’t feel committed to helping, are not learning anything, and not being paid – you aren’t volunteering, you are being exploited. And possibly doing someone else out of a paid job.

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment recommends that if you decide to do  a work trial – get an agreement in writing before you start. This should cover what you are going to be doing, and how long the trial will last.

And also – work trials are not the same as internships – my next post will look at how this type of career-orientated work experience should pan out.

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