Considered an opportunity to freely give back to the community without monetary remuneration, volunteering is considered an easy and obligation-free chance to indulge in what you’re passionate about. However, you can make volunteering do more than just that.
For instance, volunteering can be a great and fulfilling way to gain experience you need in a particular area, or develop new skills that you feel you may need in the long run. “How can this be?” you may ask. Well, read on to find out.
Gain valuable work experience
Volunteering often means that you can try your hand at different activities and challenges you may never come across in a corporate environment. It also allows you to gain valuable experience employers are usually on the hunt for. Moreover, if you were unable to land an internship, it’ll show your initiative and willingness to get out there and gain experience despite trying times!
Volunteer experience is also a great way to start meaningful conversations with recruiters, and will help you stand out as an interesting candidate during the job search process.
Pick up new skills…
You could consider searching for a volunteer opportunity that gives you the chance to learn or exercise such skills. For example, if you’re studying business in university but are also passionate about art, you can try volunteering in a museum. Not only would this be a great way to build customer-facing skills, but you’ll also get a chance to further indulge in your own personal interests too.
You might even find yourself boosting your career resilience in the future!
…and brush up on current ones
Remember the above example of volunteering at a museum? In the course of that, you’ll also get chances to practise your teamwork and communication skills as you coordinate with other volunteers, sharpen presentation skills as you give talks to visitors about the works on display, or develop your research and critical thinking skills as you read up on the exhibits to better explain them to visitors.
Expand your network
The beauty of volunteering is that you never know who you’ll be working with or speaking to – perhaps a recruiter in a company looking to hire, a person working in the industry you’re hoping to enter, or maybe even a director or CEO!
That said, please don’t go into volunteering explicitly for the networking (Yes, some people actually do this!), as that just makes the entire process fake and disingenuous. Volunteer for a cause that legitimately matters to you and just be your best self! Then take meeting whoever may come your way in stride.
Boost your mental health and self-motivation
Because volunteering keeps you connected with other like-minded people, you’ll be able to better counter any negative feelings if your job search is stretching on longer than you thought.
But at the end of the day, remember that this is all about investing in what matters to you personally. Above all else, you’re a person before you’re a professional. And when you continue to allow yourself to grow and cultivate the values and interests that give your life meaning, that is how you find your broader purpose and motivations in the world of work as well!