It was suggested to me that I do some volunteer work to help my career. How can that possibly help?
Volunteering provides opportunities that benefit even the most altruistic volunteer. As the coordinator of the Woman to Woman Conference and a Board member of several non-profits, I have seen many times over that volunteers gain more than they expect when they choose to give of their time and talent.
Skill Building Is there a skill you would like to develop to enhance your market-ability or gain a promotion? Find a non-profit that needs someone to help in that skill area and offer to do the work if they will train you or you can work with someone in their organization who will train you as you go. For many non-profits, they don’t have the money to buy the person hours (time) to get the job done. Sometimes, they have someone who has been doing a job and wants to move on and would be happy to train their successor.
Resume Building You can add your good works and association with non-profits to your resume. Impress the interviewer with your commitment to freely giving to others. You are a person who cares beyond yourself, beyond your job. You might also think of it as a way to “job hop” while earning a living at your day job. There is no stigma to volunteering in many different positions. You can discover those you like and those you don’t without having to leave a job or appear uncommitted or unstable in your career.
Contact Building Meet people you probably would not meet in your current circle of friends or business associates. Pick a charity you can “get behind:” as a supporter and volunteer to help with their fund-raising or special events. This will put you in the position of contacting people for a good cause and giving them a chance to know you outside your usual business environment. You may make new friends. You will gain resources. It increases your visibility in more circles of influence and builds your network.
Personal Satisfaction Giving is receiving and you will gain a stronger sense of your personal value and ability to contribute as the gratitude from those whose lives you have touched comes back to you multiplied. Research has shown that people who volunteer are more likely to live longer lives. I believe that is because they feel valuable and appreciated. This sense of value and appreciation will increase the energy and vibrancy of your interactions in all of your life. It will most likely be reflected in a greater sense of self-confidence and personal pride. It will make you a stronger person. These are qualities that employers look for in their staff and associates.
So do some good and get credit for it on many levels. There is no way to lose when you volunteer. Just remember to keep your boundaries clear - don’t over commit yourself so that your day job suffers. The rewards can be many and many will be grateful.