The Art of Volunteering and Pro-bono…

What is Volunteering/Pro-bono ?

‘ Pro bono publico. ‘ This is a latin phrase that translates to ‘for the public good’ in english. Pro-bono work is a form of volunteer work typically with a focus on a particular area of Law.  Common synonyms for the term Pro-bono are: gratis , unpaid and for the common good.

We learn so much from experiences. From the bad to the good.The places that we have found ourselves in have very much influenced who we are today. Organisations that have volunteers recognise the importance of experiences.The importance of how we work in teams, how we lead, how are able to take initiative, our ability to work alone and all without being paid. Those who volunteer often reap the many benefits from doing so such as referrals, training schemes, and leadership roles and in the process, encourage more people to volunteer also. However, when it comes down to what we want to do in the future, I believe that we must look to volunteer in projects and like that relate closer to our chosen career path.

Time is of the essence. It is important that we capitalise on ‘ free time.’ Giving up your time to dedicate ourselves to a project can be quite taxing. It will cost you time, energy and perhaps even your own money. You are volunteering because you believe in the aims of the organisation , you believe in the way things are being done, the environment of the work and of course the euphoria of being helpful. But as we are doing these, it is essential that we reflect on our own skills and how they may have been developed as a result of volunteering,

I appreciate and respect participation in pro-bono activities. But even more so when individuals have done more than just participate. They have reflected on tasks they have been apart of and are taking steps to further their skills. For example, by creating their own social-action projects, mentoring schemes and describing their experiences in a talk/blog/article. Participation is good. Reflection makes it worthwhile.

When I started University, I had not created a rigid plan of how I planned to succeed this year. Being the optimistic individual that I am, I declared that I would instead ensure that I would always try to make myself available and willing to be involved in extra-curricular activities in my field of work/study. And in doing so, I became more aware of the subjects which interested me the most and those which did not.

I became a research associate, a role which has required me to hone my skills of being able to gather useful information efficiently and present it a professional manner. I also decided to join my University’s Equity Program as a member of the student committee, with the aim of promoting the race equality and equal opportunity for BAME students. I did not begin volunteering simply because of the skills I could obtain, but, also because my values and beliefs were aligned with that of the projects’.

Volunteering can sometimes be quite challenging. You are not expected to be perfect from the start, however, the nature of the work may require you to work in a way which may be out of your comfort zone. This is one of the key reasons I admire volunteering work, working together despite the obstacles you may face for the good of other people. Hearing feats of how individuals have come together to overcome obstacles can inspire others and be the difference between them deciding to volunteer, or shying away from it completely. Never be afraid to share your experiences. allowing others to bear witness to your trials and tribulations allows others to understand what they can do to follow your footsteps and achieve as you have done.

From participation, we are able to reflect.And from reflection, we are able to prepare. Volunteering allows us to gain experience on what it may be like to be in the work environment of our chosen field of work. Whether we are ready to be in such a place, and if not, what we can do in order to be ready.As a volunteer, there are numerous opportunities for feedback. This is perhaps quite different from when we have a paid job where we are expected to know what we are doing and must do it well. Volunteering is more about paying it forward, that is, helping to help others. And by doing so affirming our values and belief in our projects and promotion of those projects.

It is essential for our own personal growth that we are in constant search for new meaningful opportunities, to volunteer or be apart of a pro-bono unit. We are not only defined by our success but also how we have developed from our failures also. Our experiences are important and as we volunteer more and learn more from doing so, we will begin to understand the next steps we need to improve ourselves but also potentially the future experiences of others also.

In creating this post, I hope I have caused curiosity for the volunteering opportunities around you and perhaps you have started to think of those who may benefit from doing so also.

Thank you for reading.

” You make a living by what you get. You make a life by what you give.”

~ Winston Churchill

Late Former Bristish Prime Minister

Beci Students | Image by Nguyen Anhtuh © Creative Commons

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