Improve Your Professional Life as a Volunteer
Guest Blogger: Harper Mac
Volunteers serve local and global communities and generally make the world a better place. While these opportunities won’t provide financial rewards, you can use your experiences as a volunteer to increase your professional opportunities after graduating. Whether you’re researching potential careers, improving your resume, or trying to gain experience in a new field, consider the following benefits of volunteering.
Research Potential Careers
With thousands of possible career paths, you may need assistance choosing the best one for you. Volunteering is a great place to start your search. You can try out a variety of professional paths before committing to one. For example, volunteer at an animal shelter if you think veterinary medicine is the career for you. Tutor students after school if you’re interested in teaching. Use your imagination and explore careers before investing in career training.
Improve Your Resume
If you already know which career you wish to pursue, volunteer. It improves your resume and your chances of being hired. In fact, up to 41 percent of hiring managers weigh unpaid volunteer work on an equal scale with paid work experience. Examples of volunteer work that could enhance a career include:
- medical professionals serving in local clinics
- administrative assistants typing newsletters for non-profits
- fashion designers teaching 4-H clothing design students
- accountants offering free tax preparation in senior centers
In addition to specific career-enhancing opportunities, consider volunteering based on geographical location. If you want to work for an international company, for example, you might sign up for the opportunity to volunteer abroad.
Your commitment to a volunteer position demonstrates initiative, commitment, leadership, and enthusiasm—all valuable skills employers look for during the hiring process. Presenting your volunteer work to potential employers is as important as volunteering itself. Without padding your experience, use action words to describe as many relevant details as possible to attract and keep the attention of hiring managers.
Investigate New Careers
You may wake up one day and realize you’re dissatisfied with your current career. Instead of quitting your job, look for an evening or weekend volunteer opportunity to help you explore a new career field. Pursue a music hobby by helping to organize open mic nights at local coffee shops; if you love making desserts, bake a few pies for charity events. Volunteering allows you to try out new careers without losing the financial security a job provides.
Maybe you’ve lost your job. Use your period of unemployment as a chance to pursue a new career path by volunteering in a field unrelated to your previous job. Lead tours at a museum, read to preschoolers in a daycare center or write grants for a homeless shelter. You’ll expand your knowledge, learn new skills and maybe even work with your future boss.
You’re bound to improve your professional life when you volunteer. Whether you’re exploring career options for life after graduation, enhancing your resumé, or just trying to learn more about a particular field, volunteer. You never know which experiences will guide you into your dream career or teach you valuable skills. Learn about yourself and improve your professional prospects when you volunteer.
About the Author
Lindsey Harper Mac is a writer and editor living in Indianapolis. She specializes in writing about education, social media and technology.