Virtually everyone would agree that volunteering is a rewarding way to gain experience providing care to animals. But volunteer work in the animal care field is more than just fulfilling and educational.
Volunteer work provides valuable exposure to everyday career life in the animal care arena. Through this experience, you can build lifelong relationships while you refine your career goals. Below is a look at the top nine ways volunteer work can prepare you for your animal care career.
1) Forge valuable industry connections
The path to a rewarding career in animal care begins with relationships. Working as a volunteer at a veterinary clinic, animal shelter or farm allows you to form meaningful relationships with industry members and other leaders in your animal care community. These individuals can turn into trusted mentors, long-term colleagues and potential future employers.
2) Build an impressive portfolio of experience
Volunteer work in the animal care field is a valuable addition to any resume. But it is especially valuable if you are considering a lifelong career as an animal care provider. In fact, experts highlight the following as reasons to include volunteer work on your resume:
- Show that you are a well-rounded person who is interested in your local community and animal welfare
- Illustrate your dedication to providing quality care to animals
- Showcase your loyalty to the field of animal care
3) Increase your chances of finding a paid job
“We found that volunteering is associated with a 27% increase in odds of finding employment…Volunteers without a high school degree and volunteers in rural areas have an even higher increase 51% and 55%, respectively.” – Corporation for National & Community Service
Many people are surprised to learn just how powerful volunteer work can be to people seeking a career in animal care. In fact, as quoted above, research findings suggest that people who volunteer are 27% more likely to secure a job. So whether you are voluntarily cleaning stalls at an equine facility or volunteering part-time at a busy shelter, you are helping to position yourself for career success.
4) Find out if a career in animal care is right for you
Many people desire a career working with animals. But after spending some time on the job in a veterinary hospital or in an animal shelter or another setting, they decide they might be better suited for a different career path. Volunteering is a great way to discover this without diving headfirst into a training program or a full-time career.
5) Show you are passionate about animal care
“Having volunteering work on your resume shows the employer that you care about the same causes as the organization.” – Megan Rooney, Cooperative Education Coordinator at Drexel University Some people pursue volunteer work with a particular animal care organisation because they admire their mission and want to become a lifelong employee for that organisation. Volunteering for your dream animal care organisation is one of the best ways to show that you share their passion and values.
6) Discover your hidden strengths
Volunteering in a shelter, veterinary hospital or rehabilitation facility allows you to learn how to perform a variety of tasks. For example, if you volunteer at a small animal veterinary hospital you may have a chance to assist with the following:
- Greet animals and their owners at the front desk
- Clean and organise the animal wards, surgical areas and exam rooms
- Help to provide comfort or assist with holding animals during treatment
- Provide food, water and exercise to animals
- Assist with stocking hospital supplies and essential items
As you gain exposure to various aspects of everyday life, working at an animal hospital, you may discover that you have a gift for managing the reception desk or for assisting with major surgeries. Uncovering your hidden strengths can help you determine what type of training program or full-time job to pursue.
7) Enjoy a variety of health benefits
“It’s no secret that spending quality time with an animal has numerous health benefits…Petting an animal relieves stress and lowers blood pressure, walking and playing with a dog keeps obesity at bay and bonding with an animal curbs loneliness and gives your life a sense of purpose.” Chrissy Spallone, One Green Planet
Many people are surprised to learn that spending time with animals can have a positive impact on your physical and mental health. While you are gaining valuable experience in the animal health care field, you can enjoy improved levels of physical fitness and lower levels of stress.
8) Receive guidance from experts in the field
Volunteering enables you to work side by side with professionals such as experienced Veterinary Nurses or Animal Shelter Workers or Stable Hands. In addition to learning important skills, you will receive valuable guidance that can help you develop your career goals.
9) Meet your future employer
“Employers like to hire people who can demonstrate that they’re motivated and hard working, even if they haven’t been getting paid for their efforts lately. Volunteering can also provide you with an insider’s advantage if the non-profit has an opening for a paid position.” – Nancy Collamer, Forbes
Many volunteer opportunities can lead to full-time employment within an animal care facility. This makes for a smooth, seamless transition from unpaid volunteer work to a fulfilling career with a salary. If you are interested in working for the organisation where you are currently volunteering, do not be shy about sharing your dreams with your supervisors or management. After all, you already have your foot in the door and are making a difference in the lives of animals.
What should you do if you are interested in pursuing a career in animal care?
As described above, volunteer work provides an excellent foundation for career success in the field of animal care. If you would like to take your passion for helping animals to the next level, the best thing to do is reach out to Australia’s most trusted animal care training providers. For over two decades, Applied Vocational Training (AVT) has helped aspiring animal care professionals realise their dreams by providing the highest quality career training.
We invite you to contact us at AVT to discover why we are Australia’s leading provider of animal care career training programs. AVT is known for our innovative eLearning and on-campus programs that enable students to complete courses in animal studies and veterinary nursing either on campus or from the comfort of their own homes. We look forward to helping you transition from volunteer work to a rewarding career in animal health care.