Benefits to Volunteering
Volunteering is a great way to help out other people in your community. The best volunteering should involve a genuine desire to help others. But this does not mean that the experience can’t provide some very tangible benefits to you as well.
Here are some reasons why you might want to volunteer:
- It allows you to explore career options. If you aren’t completely sure that a certain occupation is the one for you, volunteering gives you a chance to learn more about it before you make a commitment. Like informational interviewing or job shadowing, volunteering provides you with a chance to research the career alternatives open to you. It will determine if the interest is temporary or long lasting.
- It is a great way to develop new skills. For some jobs, formal education or training may not be required but employers will want you to possess certain skills. Volunteering is a way to develop skills that you can transfer to the occupation of your choice.
- It is a way to gain valuable career-related experience. Some occupations will require you to possess a certain certificate or degree but employers will also want you to have experience. So even if you have the skills and education you need, volunteering can offer you the chance to apply these skills in a “real-world” environment and provide the practical experience many employers look for.
- You can meet new people. This is good in its own right and it also allows you to establish some important networking contacts you might use to find a paying job or as references.
- Volunteer positions can often involve a large degree of responsibility, if that is what you are looking for. This will allow you to exercise leadership, develop problem solving skills and be creative.
- It provides the opportunity to develop new skills and pursue new interests. You can never have too many skills. Developing new skills and learning new things are valuable in their own right, and not just a way to further your career.
- Volunteering gives you a chance so share your knowledge and expertise with others. It can be very rewarding and fulfilling to know that all the training and education received has more value than simply putting food on your table.
- Whether you are learning new skills or developing skills you already have, volunteering provides the opportunity for you to gain confidence, self-esteem and fulfill the need to achieve.
- It allows you to get involved in your community and to make an impact on the lives of those in need. Volunteering will give you the chance to learn more about the community, society and environment in which you live.
What Kind of Skills Will You Develop While Volunteering?
- Interpersonal: You’ll learn how to interact and work well with others.
- Planning: Organizing a fund-raising event and other volunteer positions will help you learn how to develop and implement plans.
- Marketing: Once you have developed a fund-raising event, you’ll have to go out there and sell it to the public. Marketing is often an important part of volunteer work.
- Leadership: You may find yourself in charge of coordinating other volunteers or on the executive level of a club or organization. This is a chance to develop great leadership and managerial skills.
How Do You Decide What Type of Volunteer Work To Do?
- Think about what types of things you like to do.
- Think about what skills you have to offer and what skills or what personal traits you would like to develop.
- Think about what particular organizations you would like to work for. Ask friends, relatives, teachers, career counselors or a volunteer center for ideas.
- Think about how much time you are willing to commit. How long are you willing to volunteer (a week? a month? six months) and how many hours per week you can work during this period.
What Are Employers Looking For In Applicants?
- Ability to communicate
- Willingness to accept responsibility, leadership
- Initiative, competitiveness, high-energy level
- Self-knowledge, sense of personal/professional direction
- Ability to handle conflict, work under stress
- Attention to detail
- Ability to set and achieve goals
- Vocational skills
Which Skills/traits Would You like to Develop or Improve?
- Critical thinking
- Decision making
- Public speaking
- Ability to manage stress
- Sense of humor
The Case for Employee Volunteering
All employers have an impact on the community in which they operate. All of these are increasingly recognizing the importance of playing an active part in their local communities. 84% of the public believes that knowing about a company’s community involvement activities are important in forming an opinion of that organization. People giving their time and expertise to support projects of real value to the community can be the most effective donation of all.
Employee volunteering helps employers to:
- Improve their public image
- Increase employees’ commitment and motivation
- Enhance the skills of employees
- Improve levels of recruitment and retention
- Build new skills and meet new people
- Get the chance to make a difference to something they care about
- Explore new situations and challenges
- Add variety to their work
- Change or enhance the way they about themselves and their employer