Feeling Shy? Here’s 5 Things You Need to Know About Volunteering

Image of a shy personFeeling shy or nervous about applying to volunteer at NLS8? We know the feeling.  The volunteering experience is so rewarding – but it takes a lot of effort and energy for some of us. So why take the plunge? One of our committee members, James Rose, writes today about his experience volunteering at NLS7, and says come on in, the water’s fine!

Volunteering is a catapult.

Volunteering is an amazing, supported, way to network and get up close and personal with people in the industry and ask their advice. Think of volunteering as a catapult – it catapults you into the lives of people, gets your name out there, and gives you a taste of what a LIS professional looks like – all in a supported environment, with a team of people behind you.

Volunteering is equal parts patience and persistence.

Volunteering isn’t like microwave popcorn: it’s more like the tomato plant you buy from Bunnings and tend to for a while before getting to enjoy the fruits of your labour.

In short, being persistent, being patient and positive leads to a better outcome. Conferences and symposiums allow you to try new things without fear, and volunteering means you get to see it all – from behind the scenes to front of house – and use the skills you develop to make your your career and professional experience what you want it to be.

Volunteering boosts your professional network.

Knowing people is half the battle in smaller industries, and particularly in library land its a good idea to get to know everyone. You never know who you’ll be sitting across the interview table in years to come.

The sheer volume of people you meet is a major drawcard when volunteering. When you then discover the people you meet have similar experiences, it means you have a tribe. That was my experience at NLS7. I found people who were like minded and who I’ve since gone into the committee for NLS8 with, and that is something experience wise that makes it all worthwhile.  Volunteering can be a supportive way to start building that tribe of people you connect with.

Consider your workload honestly. Don’t say yes just because..

While it’s always good to say “Yes!” to opportunities, know your limits. If you can’t do something or if you need help, it’s always better to ask for help or to be honest about what you can and cannot do upfront than to pull out at the last minute.  People are more understanding and happy to help than you may realise.  That being said…

Comfort zones are meant to be expanded.

As someone who is fundamentally an introvert with hermit like tendencies, I know it can be somewhat of a challenge to muster the emotional energy needed to go and meet new people. But, as my dear friend Freya Lucas said at NLS7:

“When you volunteer for an event like this, it means that you have a responsibility that you can use to overcome your anxiety. People depend on you to be there, so you can’t just chicken out.”

Working outside your comfort zone means new skills, new horizons & new ways of being. This is why I would encourage you to volunteer for NLS8. Because it’s rewarding. It pushes you outside your comfort zone and it means that you can play a part in library land. Find your tribe at NLS8 & DIY your library career.


Are you ready to dive in?  Head over to our Volunteers page to apply.  Applications are open to all ALIA student members and are due by Monday 13th March.

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