How Volunteer Work Will Help You Get Hired
You won’t get hired if you do not have experience. But you cannot possibly have experience without someone hiring you first. It’s a vicious cycle, isn’t it? Don’t you fret! Let me tell you how you could go from having zero experience to being the applicant with a vast field experience.
If you are a fresh graduate of photography looking for your first client, the first thing they’ll be asking you is a sample of your work. But you cannot show them that edgy high-art college portfolio you have if you are applying for wedding photographer jobs now, can you? Well, it’s probably time to say goodbye to the shots you took of your friends posing nudes, or that one time you decided to go artsy fartsy and used your own “selfies” for a photography class. What you need now is a fresh start, a fresh portfolio to show your clients what you can do for them.
How, you ask? Well, it’s simple. It also will not pay you well, but it’s a very good investment. It’s doing volunteer work. If you are, say, a budding wedding photographer, all you have to do is to look for seasoned wedding photographers in your area and offer to be their apprentice. Tell them you are interested in serving as their second photographer for their next wedding shoot. Pretty easy, right?
Wrong. You’d be surprised at how unenthusiastic some people can be with the prospect of getting free help. The thing is that you are new in this business. See translation: you cannot be trusted yet. As a result, you have to be patient. You will get rejected a couple of times, but you will surely find that one project you can volunteer on. If no other option is available, you can always volunteer for your own sister’s wedding shoot.
The goal for the first few months of your career is not to earn a lot, but to build up your resume first. And what better way there is to do that than to fill up that one empty space in your resume: the work experience part? By doing volunteer work, not only are you familiarizing yourself with the ins and outs of your chosen field, you are also expanding your network. Remember that word of mouth is still the best form of advertising. Do well on your volunteer work and soon, clients will be ringing you up, this time for paid services.
Moreover, volunteering for a specific individual or an institution will give you credible feedback and recommendation opportunities. Employers are known to be more likely to hire applicants who have more recommendation letters than others. Again, let me reiterate that you have to do well in the volunteer works you do in order to secure these perks.
As a volunteer, you are more likely not to be paid. This you can even work out to your advantage. No compensation = no expectation. Meaning, you have all the opportunity in the world to dazzle them. Spend your first few months as a job hunter in doing volunteer works, and know that you are securing the next years of your career. Now, once you’re up there, never ever forget to return to your roots. If you ever get the urge to throw a volunteer’s application letter to the shredder without even scanning it, remember that you were once that guy. Be generous in giving out opportunities, and you’d be surprised. Who knows, you might even meet your future (business) partner in one of those apprentices!