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Life is all about goals—establishing them, pursuing them, and then achieving them. When all previous goals have been achieved, you must then create new ones, and repeat the process all over again. Such is the road that one must travel toward personal growth and success.
Unfortunately, you can still hit a bump or even a wall in your professional life despite your best efforts and how well you have your career trajectory plotted out. Sometimes, the job that you want requires experience or skill that you don’t possess. Or maybe you’re thinking of making a significant career change. If you face these problems and are at a loss on how to address them, volunteering can be the solution you’re looking for.
What is volunteering?
Like an apprenticeship or internship, volunteering is an excellent option for furthering your career or breaking into a new field. Unlike the other two choices though, volunteering also comes with the added benefit of actually making a positive impact in the lives of people and communities. The downside is that you won’t get paid—or at least, you shouldn’t expect to be. But if you’re willing to share your time with people and organizations that make a difference in the world, volunteering can be the opportunity that helps you build the necessary skills and experience, while improving your employability. Take a look at these insights about volunteering and how it can potentially benefit your life and profession.
1. Skill development
Many volunteer opportunities put you in a functional situation that you may never have been exposed to before. The good news is that in volunteer work, there’s often plenty of room for error. You will likely find yourself in a highly accommodating environment where you can develop a skill without the consequence of failure—or at least a level of risk that your professional life would never allow. Afraid to talk to people? You can practice your communication skills by joining a teaching program for kids. Want to learn how to handle money? Serve on a charity’s financial committee or be part of the collecting team that gathers donations. A volunteering role allows you to experiment and hone new techniques and skills while also building your self-confidence through practice.
Unique networking opportunities abound when you volunteer. You’ll be meeting lots of new people and create new relationships that would not have happened otherwise—and every single one can be a potential lead. The bonds that form between volunteers tend to be strong and stable, with camaraderie being important. This expanded network of contacts can be useful to you down the road, as your fellow volunteers will be more than happy to help you out should you ask.
While your new contacts will likely be made up mostly of people and individuals, take it one level higher and start connecting with employers. Introduce yourself to company volunteers and solidify your relationships with them. In time, they will be more inclined to respond to a professional request favorably.
3. Expanded horizons
Volunteering opens you up to different occupations and industries, giving you the chance to explore and expand your career horizons. You’ll be meeting different people working in many different job positions, who’ll be willing to share knowledge with you. You can gain a personal understanding of the roles, jobs, and challenges, they face at work, along with the perks and rewards involved. With the information you gather, you’ll be better equipped to improve your own career path or even forge a better one. For example, volunteering at a pet shelter may open you up to a career in animal research, rescue, health and technology, and so on.
4. Discovery of a passion
If you’re thinking of making a change in your career but couldn’t follow up on your plan because you are unsure of the next step to take, volunteer work could be the fruitful and rewarding job that you’ve been searching for. Many who volunteer never expect their charity work to lead to a full-time position, but it does happen. There are countless examples of volunteers who discover their passion and turn their volunteer experience into a career.
5. Personal growth
Many people find fulfillment in volunteer work. When you feel fulfilled, you’ll be happier, and your disposition will improve. This can be good for your mental health. A study found that people who volunteer had a 20 percent lower risk of death than non-volunteers. Simply put, being happier can have a huge positive impact on your life and reduce the risk of burnout. After all, when you’re happy, you’ll find that there’s more to enjoy and less to complain about at work.
6. Resume building
Volunteer experience can make your resume stand out from the rest of the pack. While your skills and competencies may be impressive as they are, people will take more notice of them if you use them to help with a good cause. And work experience is work experience, even if you didn’t get paid for it. If you have employment gaps, you can fill them in with volunteer work. Itemize your roles, responsibilities and achievements in the organization.
Make volunteering work for you
Volunteering is a great and powerful tool for success. It gives you the opportunity to boost not only your career but also your personal wellbeing. The most important thing when choosing a volunteering opportunity is to find a cause that you care deeply about. This way, you get to enjoy what you do while also helping others.
Struggling to translate your volunteer experience into a great resume? Our expert writers can take care of that for you. From a fundraiser in your local community to volunteering in the developing countries, we know how to polish your resume and ensure that it captures the attention of hiring managers. Choose from one of our available packages for a complete set of application documents, or just choose our Basic Resume Writing service for a formatted, ATS-optimized resume.