Tiffany - Hong Kong

Volunteering while studying gave Tiffany’s new skills, new networks and the confidence to get a job. Here Tiffany tells us about her experience and her top tips for getting involved in volunteering.

Tiffany, an international student from Hong Kong

Settling in and getting involved 

I was born in Hong Kong, but I went to high school in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, before moving to Australia in 2020. I am currently pursuing a Bachelor of Communication and Media at the University of South Australia.  

Initially, I was drawn to Australia because of its world-class institutions. I felt it was the perfect setting to further my learning. After I arrived, though, I realised that my fondness for Australia wasn't only about academic life - I also love the environment and people here.  

I have now settled into my new life and feel at home in Australia. I have made some friends and done well in my courses. But not every part of my journey has been easy.  

When I first arrived in Australia, I was lacking the confidence to express myself. I was afraid of talking to people I didn’t know and that they might not understand what I was saying. And so, I started looking for opportunities to move outside of my comfort zone and learn new skills. 

It was then that I discovered the world of volunteering.  

Helping myself by helping others 

In late 2020, I began searching for volunteering roles online. I was able to get a position with RSPCA South Australia and the National Railway Museum. RSPCA South Australia is a charity that advocates and cares for animals. The National Railway Museum is the largest undercover railway museum in Australia.  

In my nine months as a volunteer, I had a wide range of responsibilities and learnt a lot of new skills. These included serving customers, using point of sale (POS) systems, organising stock, cleaning and completing end-of-day cash reconciliation. 

I was also able to improve my communication and gained a lot of confidence by interacting with the customers, talking to colleagues and getting used to ‘small talk’ conversation.  

All of these skills even allowed me to get a paid job as a casual retail assistant with Ally Fashion, a clothing brand in Australia.  

Finding volunteer roles 

Volunteering has given me experiences that you can’t learn from a textbook. All students can gain these same rewards – even those studying in Australia from overseas. 

There are many sites you can visit to explore volunteering opportunities in Australia, including virtual volunteering. Some of the most useful resources are listed below. 

There usually aren’t strict requirements for becoming a volunteer. However, some volunteer positions need a lot of time and energy. Once you start volunteering, the commitment to the role is very important. Before starting, make sure you are ready to contribute and that you understand the requirements. 

Self-reflection is also important when becoming a volunteer. Ask yourself why you want to become a volunteer to understand your motivation. For me, it’s customers' satisfaction. 

While everyone’s motivation is different, I believe that all volunteers have one thing in common: They have a passion to help others and make the world a better place. 

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