19 May 2019
After difficulty finding work, 23-year-old university graduate, Courtney Fitzgerald, chose to get involved in volunteering at her local Relay For Life to help get her career off the ground. This National Volunteer Week, Courtney shares what she learned along the way.
Courtney joined the Adelaide Central Relay For Life committee as Entertainment and Activities Coordinator in 2018. Now, just one month after the 2019 event, she’s secured her first graduate position at the University of South Australia.
“I graduated from my Bachelor of Tourism and Event Management in 2017, and was looking to gain more hands-on experience within the event industry. I was considering getting back into volunteering, however it is difficult to find an organisation that will let you take control of a ‘behind the scenes’ role, and I didn't want my work to be undervalued. Joining the Relay For Life committee ended up being so much more than a resume booster; it was a personal challenge, it was an opportunity to contribute to a wonderful community, and it taught me some genuine skills to help me in my career.”
Looking back, her fellow committee members and the Relayers themselves were what it was all about.
“The committee really did feel like a family. You all work together to achieve the shared goal of running a fun and enjoyable event, and you’re all there supporting Cancer Council SA for the right reasons. I also appreciated seeing the enjoyment and value participants get out of Relay For Life. That’s why I’ve decided to stay on the committee for at least another year. I am looking forward to the opportunity to challenge myself again.”
Courtney said that the skills she gained included building on her event coordination abilities, producing an entertainment and events schedule, liaising with stakeholders, working in a team and standing by her decisions.
“I received a lot of positive feedback. It showed me that although I was finding the job search tough, this was an industry that I could do well in and was passionate about. The support I received was probably the most valuable part of my experience. Aaron and Angelina became more like mentors and friends for me rather than just Cancer Council SA staff. They allowed me to take responsibility and run with my own decisions. They were there to support every decision I made and helped generate solutions to any problems. Their feedback helped me believe in myself which contributed to the strong schedule I produced in the end.
Overall, members of the committee may have their individual roles but everything is very collaborative, with everyone helping out where they can and offering feedback.”
Since the 2019 Adelaide Central Relay For Life event in February, Courtney has been successful in securing full-time employment.
“I now work as an Administrative Assistant: Student Engagement at the University of South Australia, where I work in a team to produce all campus-based activities and events to improve student life. My time on the committee was a major real-life example that I was able to use in my interview, and I believe played a significant part in helping me secure this role. I’m grateful for my Relay experience, because it reminded me that working in events which make a difference in the community is where I want to head in life.
I would encourage anyone considering volunteering to give it a go. If you are looking to make a difference, feel valued and help other people, then Cancer Council SA is the right choice. Even though my focus was event related, there are so many different roles. Cancer Council SA welcomes everyone, allows people to come out of their shell and embraces their differences.
I highly recommend volunteering because at the very least you will meet amazing people from all walks of life, learn so much and become part of a huge, welcoming family.”
National Volunteer Week 20–26 May 2019 is a celebration of our nation’s six million volunteers. This year’s theme, ‘Making a world of difference’, echoes our sentiment at Cancer Council SA that we could not do what we do without the ongoing dedication of our amazing volunteers and Ambassadors.
Interested in giving back? Find out more about our current opportunities.