If you are a typical Cameroonian youth, this is the run down on your life.
You are born; you go to nursery school, primary school, secondary school, high-school, university and then after graduating with all these certificates. You join the thousands out there looking for a job. They tell you: Welcome to Shomencam– the fictitious company of unemployment where non-workers walk their shoes to death “hustling”.
This is your life. But it shouldn’t be. Yes, there should be jobs, but then even if there are jobs, what tells you that you are qualified for them? All the certificates? Those are nothing but paper printed on and credited etc. But in our competitive society you need a lot more than that to impress.
Don’t get me wrong I’m not belittling education. It is necessary very necessary. But it is not enough. It is not enough to have knowledge you need to have the experience of putting that knowledge to use. This is one of the reasons for which programs such as the youth corps in Nigeria is in place for those who have just graduated, and internships are required by some departments at higher institutions such as the University of Buea. We don’t have a youth corpse like the Nigerians do, and internships of one month required to pass a course do not suffice when it comes to gaining experience needed to make one stand out of the average.
However there is a better way. Volunteering.
To volunteer is to opt to undertake a job or offer your service for little or nothing. Why would you want to work for no pay? For the same reason you go to school, to learn. You see, when you volunteer you are actually paying for your learning with your labor rather fees as you do with a school. By volunteering, you gain professional experience, and practice at putting your knowledge to use.Often when applying for a job, a requirement is a certain amount of working experience. And the fresh graduate of Shomencam wonders how he/she is ever going to get working experience if he/she doesn’t get the job first. Volunteer.
When Should You Volunteer?
A good time to volunteer is while still a student. It is very possible with time management to work and go to school. If you can volunteer briefly during the long holidays of High-school then you may be able to test yourself as to what career you appeals to you most.
While in the university you may begin volunteering from your first year; either alongside going to school or during the long holidays. With the experience gleaned over the course of three to four years of the university you would have a great deal of experience to build an impressive CV by graduation. And enough confidence and practical know-how alongside your knowledge to get your self employed or become and entrepreneur yourself.
Alternatively if your program is too strenuous as is, you may take a year after school to volunteer in one or two places.
Where Should You Volunteer?
As a student you are limited to areas around your school. Be it the hospital, a credit union, an NGO or Newspaper. Think of your career choice, and apply to an organization or institution in your locality that would help you gain skills needed to boost yourself into that career path.
As a graduate you have the choice to go farther out of your region. You can volunteer in bigger organizations and institutions from UNESCO and CARE in Yaounde to international volunteering projects via the African Union Youth Division.
Wherever you decide to volunteer, apply well in advance of the time you want to begin, so you give your application time to be processed. And make sure it is a field which would boost you in your career choice and in which you truly have a passion.
Why Should You Volunteer?
Here are the top five reasons:
1. Gain Job Experience.
With volunteering you gain professional experience which cannot be taught in the classroom, Some things are learned only on the field.
2. Meet Real Community Needs.
Volunteering is the easiest way to be a part of national development. By volunteering with a community based organization, you become conscientious of your peoples’ needs and are actively working at making things better
3. Gain Entrance to College.
Volunteering noted on your CV or a motivational letter improves your chances at getting a scholarship and entry into graduate schools. Sometimes even more than your grade point average.
4. Meet New People and Establish Friends, Connections and References.
By volunteering you “put yourself out there” You open yourself to networking, to know and be known.
5. Gain New Skills and Develop Talents.
In the course of volunteering you will most likely learn new skills and find that what you thought was the right career for you may be the wrong one. It is a process of self discovery and personal growth.