Volunteering as a path to defining a career

Volunteering as a path to defining a career

5 minute read

The theme and power of mentorship in Tuesdays with Morrie, a 1997 best-selling memoir, struck a chord with Yate Xu long before he joined The Australian National University (ANU).

“Before ANU, I was very green and nervous about uni-life, and always hoped I could meet a professor like Morrie. At ANU I’ve met quite a few of them—who’ve understood, cared about and guided lost youngsters like myself to help them find their way. For that, I am quite lucky and grateful,” shared Yate, a Master of Finance student at the ANU College of Business and Economics (CBE).

Recalling one such “moment with Morrie” at CBE, Yate distinctly remembers a coffee catch-up with Associate Professor Vinh Lu, who suggested a career strategy that Yate had never heard of – VolunCareer. This approach deliberately leverages volunteering as a means to developing one’s resume and network towards a desired career.

VolunCareer became the best avenue for me to develop my professional and personal capabilities.

“I’ve always wanted to give back to society through what I’ve learnt in classrooms, whilst gaining some practical skills. Once I heard of it, VolunCareer became the best avenue for me to develop my professional and personal capabilities,” explained Yate.

Pointedly looking for VolunCareer opportunities, Yate found two openings in Canberra. There was one as a finance volunteer at Outward Bound Australia and another as a tax volunteer at the ANU Tax Clinic. Both experiences helped him “achieve multiple ends with a single means.”

At Outward Bound Australia, a not-for-profit organisation specialising in outdoor education, Yate spent most of his time resolving financial disputes and assisting financial operations. Here, he also got the chance to meet other VolunCareer students from the UK, Germany and Ireland. In comparison, at the ANU Tax Clinic he gained a better understanding of the Australian tax system as well as individual and business tax planning.

“I learnt a lot through the ANU Tax Clinic as I had a chance to meet clients in person. It directly developed my customer service and problem-solving skills,” Yate explained.

In addition to these VolunCareer opportunities, Yate joined the University’s ANU+ program, a platform that encourages giving back to society and formally recognises the employability skills you gain through volunteering. This includes skills surrounding inclusion and awareness of diversity, effective communication, and community and global engagement.

I find my degree at CBE highly relevant to what I am doing now.

Reflecting on his development, Yate believes his leadership, teamwork and organisational skills also significantly enhanced.

“My VolunCareer experiences developed my ability to creatively solve complex problems. In addition, these opportunities also honed my attention to detail and provided me a big picture mindset,” shared Yate.

Having spent most of his life between China and Singapore, Yate was drawn to CBE because of its high ranking and its vast alumni network.

“I came to Canberra to study a Bachelor of Accounting with a minor in Business Law and Professional Ethics. After finishing my bachelor degree in 2018, I stayed on to pursue a Master of Finance. On the education front, CBE first allowed me to be conformable with accounting analysis and now with a deeper understanding of applied financial theories. As I want to have a career in mergers and acquisitions, I find my degree highly relevant to what I am doing now,” Yate asserted.

The ANU College of Business and Economics offers an extensive range of specialised programs in Finance. Click here for more details.