Helping build experience

YOU MOVE to a new city in search of a job and you find there are none - what do you do?

For Dubbo resident Jennifer Andrews the answer was to go out in the community and volunteer.

The Australian Red Cross store volunteer said she did not want to stay home and twiddle her thumbs.

Ms Andrews said she was persistent in her job hunting but needed retail experience.

Born and raised on a beef cattle farm in Goolma she loved the quiet lifestyle and wanted to work on the family farm.

After graduating from an advanced diploma in science specialising in agriculture at the University of New England she looked for jobs but to no avail.

"It's quite a male dominated industry and there are not many jobs for women," she said.

Ms Andrews said she worked on the family farm for a while before moving to Dubbo, a city which had more job opportunities.

After a while job hunting with no success she wondered what she could do to keep herself active.

"I was bored and had nothing to do," she said.

"I knew there was (an Australian) Red Cross store and saw the sign asking for volunteers outside so I popped in and enquired."

She filled in the volunteer form, applied and a few days later she was called to start her first shift.

"I loved it and since then I've stayed here," she said.

Store manager Rebecca Duncan said eight months ago when Ms Andrews first started she was shy and her confidence was low.

"She's come out of the shell a lot," she said.

"She's a lot more approachable with people, knows how to rotate stock and is well rounded in her experience.

"When I'm not there she pretty much takes over my role. She is a bonus to the store."

Most of the employment in the city was customer service related such as fashion, food or travel, she said.

Employers were looking for retail experience and volunteering was a great way to earn essential skills, have fun and serve the community.

"You won't be able to walk in with no experience to a job," she said.

"There's too much competition."

Ms Andrews admitted her volunteer role was a challenge at first but it gave her a confidence boost and made her an outgoing person.

"What better way to spend your time than helping the community and getting experience," she said.

"It's better than being at home doing nothing."

Ms Andrews promised she would still volunteer in the store after she found a job.

Dubbo residents who were unable to find a job and wanted to get out of the house, be active and gain experience should look for a place to volunteer.

"There's no shortage of opportunities to volunteer in the city and it's lots of fun," she said.

abanob.saad@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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