During your application for a scholarship, one of the fields you could fill in concerned your volunteering efforts. Hopefully, that field did not only contain your mandatory Community Involvement Programme (CIP) experience.
Volunteering your time and effort to help others is a noble act that has benefits not only those receiving aid, but yourself as well.
So, what do you gain from volunteering? The answer is not
“something nice to tell the scholarship interviewer”. Let us count the ways:
1. A new look on life
Volunteering puts us into contact
with people normally far removed from our lives, be they beneficiaries or
fellow volunteers. We interact with them, learn about them, help them… and in
the process, they do the same for us.
Particularly for scholarships with
government ministries, understanding what it’s like for people “on the ground”
is vital to future policy planners and decision makers. Alexander
Lim, Ministry of Social and Family Development Singapore Government Scholar,
decided to apply with the aforementioned ministry after his CIP experience.
2. A great networking opportunity
By volunteering, you’ll form
relationships with many people – vendors, suppliers, beneficiaries, and
colleagues. Any of them could end up being useful future contacts whom you can
rely on in the future. On a more immediate level, a supervisor or head of a
charity organisation can write a testimonial regarding your contributions as
Also, volunteering gets you out of
your comfort zone by forcing you to interact with others from very different
backgrounds. Your experiences with these people – both the good and the bad –
will help you broaden your worldview as you see the world as they do.
3. Character building
“Anything you don’t like to do
builds character” – is a popular justification for eating your vegetables,
making your bed, and studying for that test when you’d rather watch TikTok
But the above is definitely true of
volunteering. Volunteering takes time and effort, packing one more regular task
into an already-packed schedule. Also, not everyone will be appreciative, and
some of the work will be tedious or difficult.
It goes to follow that its rewards
are infinite. The sense of accomplishment achieved in knowing you have helped
to better the life of someone else is indescribable. You might also be able to
discover new interests or strengths within you and feel empowered to take on
greater, more fulfilling projects.
4. An individual edge
Sponsoring organisations interview
hundreds of applicants, looking for someone to groom. How can you stand out in
the crowd of exceptional students with good grades, great CCA participation,
and glowing testimonials?
One of the best ways to make your
mark as an individual is to show that individuality, and volunteering is a
great way to do it.
Where did you volunteer, for how
long, and what thoughts and ideas did you gain as a result – those are
intangible sparks of individual achievement that no other student can
replicate, as they are uniquely yours. (Even if someone else had volunteered
with the same organisation, they wouldn’t experience it the way you did.)
Make the most of your free time, and help somebody out! (Check out giving.sg for volunteering opportunities.)