The Career Benefits of Volunteering
Back in high school as we prepared our college applications, we were often asked (sometimes trite) questions about times we’d helped others, served our communities, or been selfless in the face of adversity. We thought to the times our parents had sent us on mission trips, the soup kitchens we’d helped organized, and the kids we tutored at an after school program. Those experiences were valuable not just in what we’d learned by doing them, but in how we could structure them to benefit the beginning of our higher educational experiences.
Now in the workforce, it is just as important to remember that volunteering has a number of benefits. Yes, we volunteer because we want to feel selfless, we want to help others, and we want to see the impact we can make. That said, where you volunteer, there’s a lot in it for you – and more than just some good feels. Volunteering can positively impact your career goals by providing opportunities that might not be immediately available to you work.
Volunteering allows you to be part of your community.
Being a volunteer allows you to give back with your time and your expertise. Being involved in organizations outside of work gives you a chance to stretch yourself. Helping others is often a rewarding experience, which comes with an opportunity to meet new people while growing as an individual. Whatever your interest, you have a chance to leave a lasting impact on your community.
Volunteering provides opportunities to develop new skills.
I have personally found volunteering to be a wonderful place to hone general interests into fine-tuned talents. I learned the basics of social media marketing by taking on a volunteer role as Technology Chair for a local organization, and also volunteered to do their invitation designs. Several years of being involved in such a capacity allowed me to transfer my new skills into a role as Media Co-chair for another group. I’ve since shifted these abilities into a more focused interest in social media marketing, including a recent launch of my own blog, and have a freelance graphic design business on the side.
Volunteering is a great way to network.
As a volunteer, you have the opportunity to make connections that might not otherwise be available to you. Different causes pull at the heartstrings of all kinds of people, and being a volunteer is a wonderful opportunity to be more visible and connect with other like-minded individuals. If you’re unemployed or looking to make a career change, tapping into your volunteer connections can save you a lot of time in the hunt for a new position.
Volunteering shows other people that you care.
When job hunting, putting your volunteer experience on your resume can actually create an opportunity for employment. By listing these experiences, you can demonstrate proficiency in skills you have honed through volunteering that may not show up in your career portfolio.
The key to being a successful volunteer is finding a cause you truly believe in. As with any job, you will do better work if you can wholeheartedly support an organization’s mission. It is also important to figure out how much time you are actually willing to commit to this cause. Do you have an hour a week to spare? Maybe just one Saturday a month? Knowing your personal goals will allow you to be a successful and motivated volunteer. Regardless of your aim, the most important piece is to enjoy what you’re doing. The more fun you have, the more rewarding the experience.
Can you tell us about how volunteering has positively impacted your career?