Monday 11 April 2016

Volunteering - skills for life

This week it is Student Volunteer's Week: 11-17 April.

I saw an advert on Victoria Plus asking people to make contact if they wouldn't mind doing an interview for Student Volunteer's Week through Volunteering New Zealand. I thought I would sign up to do it and then I thought well, why don't I write a blog post at the same time - about what I've been doing and how awesome volunteering is?

Throughout my time at Victoria University I signed up to Vic Plus, it's an award and certificate system that recognises student leadership and volunteering. I've really enjoyed the opportunities I've been given to excel in my areas of expertise, and developing skills I didn't really have before. You can sign up to and learn more about Vic Plus here.

One part of the programme is developing skills through personal and professional sessions and this helps the student to transition from study into paid work. Some of the workshops I've done through the Vic Plus programme cover things like how to write a kick-ass cover letter and curriculum vitae, and how to really nail an interview and get the job!

The second part is based around volunteering and giving back to the community.
Through my time doing Vic Plus I've done a range of things from charity letterbox drops for fliers as a one off day with my sister; volunteering long term as an usher, fire warden and ticket taker at BATS Theatre (just passed three years!); helping to man the stalls for Vic Plus at Club's Week 2016; and a range of other things on campus like Class Rep for my classes (for a trimester for each paper) and being on the FHSS Faculty board as a student rep (for one year).

Part three of the Vic Plus programme is writing an E-Portfolio, I am doing this step now. This is a place where the student reflects on what they have been doing, what they have learned and what they can take away from the experiences they have been doing.

Through being Class Rep and Faculty representative I've worked closely alongside VUWSA (the student association at VUW) and a large number of fellow students. The Class Rep acts as a voice between the students of the class and the lecturers and the school. They have training from VUWSA and that includes free pizza! And then at the end of the trimesters they also meet with the department and talk about the issues raised by students. The more the Class Reps put in the more they get out of it. In my first trimester I impressed the head of school of English so much that he offered me a PhD position when I get to that level... Needless to say that is no longer in my plans. But still pretty awesome!

Through my volunteer ushering, fire-warden-ing and ticket taking role (I wear many hats at once) at BATS I've learned to multi-task and prioritise things. I've also developed more confidence with talking to strangers and public speaking in general. I still have a few (rare) moments of worry like when a siren is in the sound effects of a show (and I think it's the real alarms going off!)
I am currently working really closely with the Box Office staff each night - we also communicate via radios and I help to ensure that the audience is kept happy and safe within the space.

Because of my love of theatre and box office assistance at BATS - I decided to take on the role of volunteer Front of House Manager for Summer Shakespeare, where I took on full responsibility for all of the Box Office area - from selling tickets, to training fellow Vic Plus volunteers and other community volunteers, and being the main First Aider and on the Health and Safety team.

Summer Shakespeare 2016 - Cast and Crew first rehearsal photo.

Posters by Glover Park, in Ghuznee Street, Wellington.

I had a number of challenges through the season from an audience member being involved in an accident with a prop, to EFTPOS terminals and ticket scanners malfunctioning!
Thanks to my training at BATS I was able to apply a lot of what I already knew, mostly regarding how to fix things up - I had friends who had come along to the show comment that they had never seen me so organised, in control and busy before!
Due to personal reasons* I will not be returning to Summer Shakespeare in 2017.

From the pre-promotional shoot we did which was used for styling ideas.
I had a great costume and didn't know what to do with this apple.

Volunteering for me is about giving back to the community, but it's also about a transfer and use of skills. When I'm not volunteering - I'm often studying. Studying only uses certain parts of my brain. I like being creative - volunteering in the theatre allows me to explore my business side as well as my more creative outlets.
Because of my volunteering at BATS I was introduced to a theatrical genre called Improvisation, because of that exposure I signed up to community college classes for Improv in 2015. I really, really liked performing and I want to expand my skills in that area.

From the pre-promotional shoot we did which was used for styling ideas.
I had a great costume and didn't know what to do with this apple.

*I have to work and get money to help fund our wedding. So by this summer I should be in employment which means less time for all of the volunteering I like to do. However I am sure I will continue doing some volunteering things just because I love doing them so much. For example - BATS you haven't seen the last of me yet!

Until next week,
xx Lisa.

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