Participating in the pilot information session for Study Melbourne Live Volunteers gave Bachelor of Business student, Don Doughty, the unique opportunity to help shape the program based on the real needs and experiences of international students. His input informed the SMLV team on the impact of volunteering for international students and Don has been a strong advocate for volunteering within his student community.

More confidence about volunteer rights and responsibilities

In his role as President of the Melbourne Polytechnic (Melbourne Poly) International Students Association, Don has helped educate students about their rights and responsibilities when taking on volunteer work. Creating awareness helped ensure his fellow students were not feeling like they were being exploited by employers.

Taking a leading role in developing last year’s Skills Expo, supported by Study Melbourne Live Volunteers, Don highlighted the benefits for students who might have been unsure about what it meant to be a volunteer. Don has addressed concerns about working in unpaid roles, illustrating that it’s a legitimate way to obtain experience and new skills.

You never know where your talents will lead

Don didn’t initially plan to take on this leadership role. His mission coming to Melbourne was to pursue his education pathways. So, Don says being on this incredible volunteer journey was a very nice surprise. He believes it’s in his nature to socialise, network and make new friends. He’s naturally drawn to connect with others.

“This was one of the best things I've done, because having that characteristic actually led me towards volunteering for the school, then leading the association. I got invited to attend conferences and meet fellow international students, got to hear their stories of their life journeys in Melbourne. With that, it actually created a huge passion to help or to guide fellow international students.”

Don’s natural leadership skills saw him elected as head of Melbourne Poly’s International Students Association, where he is thrilled to be able to advocate for students and help guide their on- and off-campus development.

Start a track record of work performance to earn your next paid role

Volunteering has enabled Don to build an impressive professional network and a track record in a leadership role. This has led to him being engaged for paid projects at Melbourne Poly.

Don says that while being paid is good, it is not his main focus. He is passionate about building “bridges” between student and industry in his volunteer role with the International Student Association.

“We'll be very focused on creating knowledge for our students, and creating opportunities for them to be able to do internships and have the job opportunities during and after they graduate.“

Learn and grow in different ways through volunteering

Connecting with others through volunteering can help ease the challenges of adapting to life in a new country. Don learned about other people’s backgrounds to help him understand cultural differences. As well as improving his communication skills, he recognised a desire to help others. He found that through helping others, he helped himself too.

“Because, you know this is always fair, if you go out and give more, it will come back to you. Not that you are asking, but this is how the universe works.”

In Malaysia there is the common (mis)understanding that volunteering is only for charity and activism.

“Volunteering in Australia has given me the opportunity to network and to actually create a platform for myself to have this same opportunity to portray my skills and, at the same time, utilise this to actually gain job opportunities in the future.”

Moreover, volunteering has proven, in Don’s life, to be a valuable antidote to the isolation often experienced by international students. Engaging with the community helps maintain positive mental health and Don provides a platform for open and healthy discussion of mental health issues.

For students struggling to find the courage to embark on volunteering projects, Don says:

“We took a huge leap coming over to a foreign country, and why does it need to stop there?”

Volunteering and Study Melbourne

Check our volunteer page for information about volunteering programs, information sessions and opportunities brought to you by Study Melbourne.

Olena Nguyen's story

Olena Nguyen's story

I like the saying ‘Volunteers do not necessarily have time, they just have the heart’. Volunteering has made some of the most memorable moments in my life.

Olena Nguyen, Vietnam
Read Olena Nguyen's story
Olena Nguyen