People volunteer everywhere, every single day, in all domains. It is estimated that over 1 billion people volunteer worldwide. People volunteer for several reasons, but there is one overarching element for everyone — service.
The beauty of volunteering is that it is a selfless act that brings joy and fulfilment.
As a budding language professional, it is expedient to volunteer, as this comes as an opportunity for many reasons. Below are some reasons why you should start NOW!
1. Gain hands-on experience
Volunteering as a budding language professional helps you get hands-on training, thereby giving you the opportunity to practise the knowledge you acquire in the classroom.
My first volunteering experience was with Global Citizen Ghana where I gained experience on how to recycle bottles and pen holders, transforming old car tires into beautifully crafted chairs, transforming used sachet water into art, and above all educating market woman at the Madina Market in Accra Ghana on how to keep the environment in which they sell clean. This is where my journey of speaking to large crowds began.
2. Acquire new skills
Another major reason why you should volunteer is the opportunity to learn new skills or develop your existing skills. Volunteers gain skills such as teamwork, problem-solving, time management, leadership, communication, presentation, and public speaking, among many others. Kabod Group International runs a flagship programme that gives room for volunteering and internships under its 3 main services: Languages, eLearning & Knowledge Management. In August, Kabod received Grace Yoboue as a volunteer, and after one month, she rejoiced over the numerous new skills she has acquired, namely; writing skills, blogging skills, research skills, networking skills and many others.
3. Improve your C.V / resume
Volunteering falls under your career history; it is, therefore, highly necessary to add to your C.V. Having more volunteer experience increases your employability rate. Personally, walking in the corridors of the United Nations Framework for Climate Change in Lomé (Togo) as a translator for the Regional Collaborating Centre was a dream far beyond imagining.
However, I would not have had that opportunity without the numerous opportunities I had volunteering with Global Citizen, Ghana International Model United Nation, and the United Nations Development Programme during the Africa Climate Week (ACW) in 2019. Heaven smiled on me as I won the best volunteer award which came with working with the UNFCCC office in Togo for 3 months. All this, captured on my CV, helped me land several contracts especially in the field of climate change and international relations.
It’s also a strategic way of getting the corporate and professional experiences needed by recruiters. In this regard, Christian Elongué, our managing director at Kabod Group International, revealed that over 70% of his experiences before becoming a consultant were gained through volunteering and internship.
“A company may be reluctant to recruit and pay you for an executive or managerial position because of your insufficient years of professional experiences, but feel more safe and open to give you an opportunity and chance to work in a managerial role as a volunteer or intern, because the risk is lesser and the implied cost or salary paid is more affordable and beneficial for the company”, has he confided to us during a Kabod Spark Session, one of our internal talent development program.
So don’t hesitate therefore to seize every volunteering opportunity aligned with your career goals in the language industry.
4. Professional exposure
Unemployment is one of the continent’s plagues. Volunteering in communities or organisations that require your skillset, especially while in school, increases your chances of employment after your studies.
Research shows that 80% of employers value voluntary work experience, with 58% valuing it more than paid work experience. It is highly advisable to gain experience volunteering before applying for a permanent job.
Volunteering with an organisation that aligns with your field of study helps you to know what lies ahead of you after graduation.
I was a student when I started volunteering for the Ghana International Model United Nations. A year later, I moved to assistant administrator and finally head communications. These volunteering experiences prepared my entrance into the corporate world and helped me to avoid mistakes that fresh graduates usually do in their first job.
Volunteering positions you to meet experts and people who have a wealth of expertise in your chosen field and the work others are doing, which might drastically change your career perspective. These contacts, as a result of networking, mostly become resorts in times of need and want.
My international contract as a freelance was as a result of networking while volunteering at the ACW.
I met Richard (a Nigerian climate action activist) who recommended me to several people who needed translation and interpretation. Since 2019, he still contacts and recommends me, but where did it start? He saw me volunteering. This helped me grow my network of diverse nationalities.
Since you have been reading till here, let me give you a BIG bonus! Below are organisations where language professionals can volunteer, either in person or remotely.
Organisations you can volunteer with as a language professional.
1. Kabod language Services
Kabod is a great place you want to consider when volunteering as a budding language professional because of the tailor made structures developed to help its volunteers and interns grow beyond their field of study.
2. UN volunteer
The United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme is the volunteer arm of the United Nations. Due to the presence of the UN in many countries, the need for language professionals is incessant.
It’s a platform that connects writers and publishers with translators. You may contact the author directly and provide your assistance. You will basically be a volunteer, but you may end up collecting a part of the revenue when the work you translated is sold.
4. TED Talks Translators
TED is a non-profit devoted to spreading ideas, usually in the form of short, powerful talks. You can join its team of volunteers to translate, review, or transcribe their content.
Coursera has become one of the largest e-learning platforms. You can volunteer to translate the subtitles for any course you like. This is equally possible with Khan Academy.
Translators without borders is a global community of over 100,000 members helping people get vital information and be heard in whatever language they speak.
At this point, I believe you are more than convinced of the need to volunteer or if you have already volunteered, you need to volunteer more. Through it, people would get to know your skills and may easily reach out later for job opportunities, based on your demonstrated skills.
Do you know any other organisation where a translator or Interpreter can volunteer? What has been your most memorable and fulfilling experience as a language professional? Do not hesitate to share your experience or feedback in comment with us.
I’ve been in the language industry since 2018 mostly working as a freelancer and have also worked in some international organisations as an in house translator. I am a certified translator with (English, French and Arabic) as my language combination. I have gained experience working on various projects in different fields of study. With a high proficiency in my language combination coupled with my experience over the years, i have gained the skill of delivering excellent and timely translations.