Volunteering is one of the best things you can do for your career.
Volunteers gain a variety of benefits from every position they take on including learning new skills, improving upon existing skills, gaining network opportunities, and decreasing stress levels. In this article, we explore how volunteering not only benefits those you help but you and your career as well.
The Virtuous Skill Cycle
Often, volunteers are selected for opportunities or tasks based on their experience in that area thus starting a virtuous cycle. While volunteering you get the chance to use your skill in a new setting. This may mean you use new techniques, apply the skill in a different way, or find complementary skills in order to get the work done. Then you take those transformed skills back to your regular work. At work, you apply the skill, improve upon it, and go back to the volunteer job with even more new ways of using the skill you started out with. This pattern will continue and you will become more and more adept at the skills you consider the most impactful.
Networking through Volunteering
Volunteering opens up opportunities to meet people in your industry. They may be customers, colleagues, competitors, or complementary businesses. This kind of all-level networking has many benefits beyond the learning about those in your network or even the potential for a future job opportunity.
- Interacting with customers leads to understanding what they need or want from your work. This gives you a chance to improve your customer service.
- Volunteering with colleagues or people in a similar field allows you to learn from each other and build your skills.
- Working with competitors in a volunteer setting allows you to better understand the market and assess where you stand.
- Volunteering with complementary businesses helps you build a network to better assist your clients. For instance, you can recommend a business with more confidence if you have seen their work ethic and personality through volunteer opportunities.
No matter where you are in your career, a network in your chosen field is highly beneficial. If traditional networking events do not work for you, then give volunteering a try and see how you can build a network with even more insights and opportunities.
More Work, Less Stress
Do you think more work means more stress? Not necessarily. Volunteering can actually improve mental health! Volunteers and active community members tend to spend more time with other people which reduces feelings of loneliness or depression. In the long-term, volunteering also allows you to build a social network of like-minded people. These are people you can talk to or go to for support when needed.
Improved mental health is not the only indicator of less stress, in fact, we often tie stress to how we feel on a more general level. Well, volunteering to the rescue again because when you spend time helping others or working for a cause, you feel more appreciated and perceive the work as having more meaning. This leads to a sense of calm and happiness that can persist especially if you continue to give back.
Volunteering and Your Career
As you volunteer in your community, you will learn new skills, improve existing skills, grow your network, and decrease stress. These sources of personal growth become great benefits to your career. With new or improved skills, you will work better. With a larger or more connected network, you open yourself to more learning or job opportunities. And with less stress, you will find yourself refreshed and ready to tackle new challenges at work.
All that to say, volunteering truly is one of the best things for your career.