Establishing a solid career is tough.
The initial stages of everyone’s professional journey are a time filled with panic, confusion and self-doubt.
Maybe you are unable to land that competitive internship or are finding it hard to be offered an entry level position. You may even be struggling to work out what career path you wish to pursue. You could be missing something big that could boost your career prospects.
What if I told you that the missing career link could be volunteering experience?
Volunteering is a great way to give back to your local community as well as other communities around the world. Aside from the fact that volunteering makes you feel good, and allows you to become a part of something bigger than yourself, there are other reasons why volunteering is a great idea.
These range from skills development, to gaining valuable experience in different fields, connecting with other professionals and boosting your career prospects. Below are some of the main benefits.
It Looks Good On Your Resume
You have to admit, it feels great to add a few more lines to your resume.
When you are willing to put a lot of effort into a good cause, even when there is nothing in it for you, it shows your competency and dedication.
Some employers require 2 – 3 years post-graduate experience, making it hard to get a look in on your dream job. Volunteering helps fill that gap on your resume, leading to a better chance of getting an interview.
The added benefit is a glowing letter of recommendation from leaders of the organisations you have volunteered with, as well as a strong list of referees.
It Helps You Network
Volunteering has become an easy way to make new connections in your area, especially if you have recently moved to a new city or country and are eager to find a way to meet new people.
It is a stress-free networking opportunity that comes without the awkward and uncomfortable conversations you may find yourself engaged in at formal events.
When you have built a strong and positive relationship with the organisations you volunteer with, senior persons within that organisation will not hesitate to help you. They might recommend you for other great opportunities or connect you with important contacts. You may even wish to recommend some of those opportunities to your friends and family.
It Helps You Develop Valuable Skills
You might not know it, but volunteering helps build new skills and enhance existing ones.
As a volunteer, you can allow yourself to listen, learn and experience a range of different tasks and challenges without the stress and pressure of getting something wrong or running the risk of ruining your professional reputation.
Volunteering is an effective way to gain confidence working in a professional setting. Being able to present yourself to a future employer as an impressive and well-rounded candidate with a range of experience will set you apart. Well-developed teamwork and interpersonal skills are also valuable asset that every employer looks for.
It Helps You Understand Yourself
Volunteering enhances self-awareness.
A better understanding of your personality, your strengths, weaknesses and interests can give you a new and inspired outlook on your career choices.
For instance, if you are the kind of person who excels at analytical thinking and persuasiveness, volunteering may help you decide on a career pathway in the law. If you discover that you have a creative and imaginative mind, on the other hand, you may be guided towards more creative industries such as design.
It Enables You To Explore Career Choices
Volunteering helps you to gather information and determine exactly what you are looking for in a career.
If you have no idea what you want to do with your life, finding out what it’s like to work at a big company or smaller non-profit can be of real benefit.
Regardless of the size, volunteering presents a fantastic opportunity for you to figure it all out. It is a safe environment for you to discover your true ambitions.
It Stops You Slacking Off
If you have a 2 month university break, a few weeks of work leave, or want to get a complete change of scenery for 6-12 months and volunteer overseas, volunteering is a great way to avoid boredom and apathy and keep your brain engaged.
When you resume work or study, you will be on top of things and in a position to hit the ground running!
For those who already volunteer – good on you! You are one step closer to your dream job.
For those who are planning to volunteer – go for it! Volunteering is not only a way to make a positive social impact, but also a way to kick start your personal and career development.
So, get off your couch and go volunteer! You won’t regret it.
Below are some great volunteering resources to get you started:
- Volunteering ACT
- Pro Bono Australia
- Go Volunteer
- Volunteer Network
- Ethical Jobs
- Knowhow Nonprofit
- Seek Volunteer
- Victoria’s Volunteering Panel
- Volunteering Queensland