Volunteering is a great way to gain some experience to help build up your CV so that you can secure a job in marketing.
How is volunteering different to interning?
They both involve carrying out unpaid work to gain some experience but the term volunteering is typically used to describe unpaid work carried for not-for-profit organisations such as Charities and Trusts, whereas interning describes unpaid placements usually carried out by graduates in a commercial environment.
Why volunteer over interning?
Most intern opportunities will usually involve working on a full-time basis so its not always a good option if you are looking to build up some extra experience around your existing career path. Internships tend to be reserved specifically for graduates and the typical structure will involve some job shadowing, training and hands-on work.
If you don’t have a degree or full-time availability then volunteering is a good way to contribute to a good cause, get some marketing experience on your CV and get a reference.
Where do I start?
Do it – Best website for voluntary work. Search for opportunities in marketing (under professions) and see what is going on in your area.
Pimp My Cause – The only website dedicated to helping non-profit causes find marketers, set up a profile and also view their help wanted ads.
Think outside the box
If you have been scouring voluntary opportunities but haven’t found anything that says “MARKETING HELP WANTED” then you may need change your perspective a little.
Opportunities like “shop volunteer” may not scream ‘marketing’ at first but it could be a good opportunity for you to do some marketing in addition to their other requirements.
Stuff like creating posters and flyers to hand out locally, arranging interesting shop displays and setting up social media channels are all ways you can help with the marketing even in a shop based role, so its worth enquiring about these types of opportunity to ask about how else you could help them.
If you still can’t find anything suitable in your area, don’t be perturbed, you may need to contact some organisations yourself. Remember that not-for-profit businesses rely on the support of volunteers and in many cases will accept as much help as they can get!
Other Voluntary suggestions:
Gay Pride’s are popping up in many cities. Not only do they rely on council funding, they also require lots of voluntary support with events and marketing. Search for your nearest Gay Pride event on Pride Guide.
There are no shortage of free festivals and carnivals run by councils and charities, they rely on help from volunteers to help with their marketing. Check out Money Saving Experts Guide to Free UK Festivals to find one local to you and contact them through their website.
Most Political parties offer the opportunity to volunteer via their websites but you could get in touch with your local branches to see how you could help with marketing. Search your preferred political party and location in Google.
Art galleries and exhibitions are run by volunteers and paid staff, new exhibitions require marketing to get people to come and see them, so contact your local galleries to see if there is any way you can help.
Community sports programmes differ regionally but most councils are offering some sort of initiative to help people become more active. If are passionate about fitness and want to help out with marketing this could be a great way, check out your coucils website and look for sports & leisure, also check out sportsvolunteering.net
Think about your interests and causes, the more it interests you the better the contribution you can make.
Building up your experience:
There is no minimum number of hours you need to give in order to build up enough marketing experience for employers to start considering you for their marketing roles but we have a few suggestions that could help you fast-track your way to paid marketing employment:
Keep your CV updated with everything you have been doing as a volunteer relevant to the marketing roles you are going for.
Stick to bullet points when describing tasks that you have carried out and don’t waffle.
Try and include some statistics or feedback that demonstrates how your marketing contribution has helped the charity, for example “increased twitter followers by 20% in just over 3 months” or ask your line-manager there for some feedback on your contribution.
Providing details of a referee is useful but make sure you ask their permission
Having a portfolio of work that you can direct people to is a great way to show off what you have done, you can now add work such as presentations, leaflets, posters and more to your LinkedIn profile.
Asking for a LinkedIn recommendation from an employer or line-manager will boost your profile as a marketer. If your employer is not on LinkedIn then you could ask then to give you some feedback that you can publish on your personal blog or online CV website.