How Law Student Catherine Channels Education Into Volunteer Work | Time Auction Impact Highlights

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Meet Catherine!

After receiving her bachelor’s degree in Comparative Literature and Sociology, Catherine is now pursuing a postgraduate law degree. Prior to joining the Time Auction community, she already had abundant experiences in volunteering. From teaching underprivileged children to planning accessible classical music events, it’s clear that this is not her first rodeo as a skilled volunteer… and yet she notes her Time Auction journey as one that stands out the most!

Previously, we posted a blog post showcasing Natalie from Body Banter’s journey of finding a skilled volunteer for their legal consultant project. This article details the perspective of Catherine, their matched volunteer!

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Moblising Abilities Through Skilled Volunteering!

As a law student, Catherine undoubtedly has a tight schedule to stick to in order to ensure academic success. So despite many existing engagements, why sign up on Time Auction anyway?

Catherine recalls her prior experiences of volunteering and the difficulties of finding these opportunities in the first place. “The first step of reaching out was definitely challenging as it was up to me to take the initiative. There was no mutual platform and it was hard to ascertain what help non-profits actually needed.” 

“This is why Time Auction stands out -- it’s a pairing platform that works for all stakeholders. Accessible and informative, it tells me what the NGO expects from me and what I can learn from them.”

“The platform enables people to understand the organization they want to volunteer for, what the project is about, and the collaboration timeline.” Amidst the plethora of posted projects on the platform, she found a legal consultant project from Body Banter that fit all her criteria -- flexible hours, working remotely, and a mission that she believes strongly in. 

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Catherine’s job was to craft two legal documents to protect Body Banter’s intellectual property rights. She recalls the mind-stimulating process of ensuring she has fulfilled her duties to the best of her abilities. “Each detail in any legal document is desperately important and there is no one size fits all approach!” Unlike her usual exams where she has to apply her theoretical knowledge to fictional cases, as a volunteer for a real organization, she had real clients and was the main driver of the project. From start to finish, Catherine was in charge. Perhaps you could say that this was her real test of knowledge -- an experience of unrivaled personal and academic growth.

“I would like to think that I am now two years ahead in my law studies!”

Jokes aside, Catherine shares her opinions on skilled volunteering and what motivates her to continue dedicating her precious time and efforts. “Skilled volunteering sets a high bar that requires volunteers to put more thought into projects. Perhaps it is even more important than regular volunteering because these skill sets are not usually accessible to nonprofits given the large price tag.”

“For me, it simply does not make sense to exert such immense financial pressure on NGOs who are striving to better our community.”

Volunteering Is A Two-Way Process

Besides helping other people, Catherine believes that volunteering has enabled her to become more confident about her skills. “Initially, something that set me back from signing up was the reckoning that what I do will make a real impact on others.” However, she gradually realized that “if I keep doubting whether I am the woman for the job, then I won’t ever know if I am good enough because I haven’t actually tried to do it!” She hopes to tell other volunteers that “it’s fine to have insecurities or uncertainties about your capabilities. In fact, this just shows how much you care. Continue being reflective and admit your imperfections but don’t let them hold you back. You may even surprise yourself with that leap of faith!”

Furthermore, Catherine notes that Time Auction’s rewards, such as dining with inspiring leaders, are a cherry on top for the fruitful volunteer experience. 

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“Being able to meet influential people is a priceless gift.  Learning about how they overcome obstacles was not only rewarding but it also inspired me to live my life to the fullest potential and write my own stories.”

Lastly, Catherine urges NGOs who are working with skilled volunteers to be supportive and upfront. Speaking from her own experience, “They [the founders] made my life a lot easier as they were always open about the challenges they were facing. They were very understanding and appreciative of my input and efforts.” She also hopes that NGOs will engage their skilled volunteers in some of their one-day activities. As a legal consultant facing paperwork, issues may seem quite distant at times. She has now hopped on another Time Auction project (Mealingful) as an HR Advisor, in which she was invited to participate in a soft meal preparation workshop. “It’s important to remember that though I am simply facing a legal problem, I am serving real people. It would be great for nonprofits to involve their skilled volunteers in direct service events to make the issue become more personal.”

Thank you so much to Catherine for contributing 18 volunteering hours and more to come!

To be featured as our community member, embark on your volunteering journey by discovering projects you can help with now: http://www.timeauction.org/projects 

Interviewed and written by Katia Shek

Updated on 10 August, 2021
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