So there’s this misconception a lot of people have about volunteering that we’d be addressing today. Before we dive into it though, let’s clarify what volunteering means in this context. To volunteer is to commit your time, strength and resources in rendering services to a cause or an organization without getting paid. Volunteering has to do with you willingly participating in carrying out a (community) project with no monetary gains attached. It is service rendered consciously and willingly free of charge. Okay?
“What’s the point of working if I won’t get paid?”
“Why should I provide value for another person, organization or institution in exchange for nothing?”
“Puh-leez, I’d rather stay home and sleep”. ?
“I’m not a charity organization”.
Questions and statements like these all boil down to the “What’s in it for me?” question, and the answer to this stretches across different areas of life. There is substantial proof that volunteering can be beneficial psychologically, mentally and spiritually as well. In this post however, we’d be discussing the benefits of volunteering as it pertains to your personal and professional/career development as a student. You see, volunteering is not only about rendering free services like a lot of people tend to think. You also get something in return; you get benefits that, believe it or not, can be more valuable to you in the long run than any immediate monetary gratification you’d get.
Let’s get right to it!?
What benefits do you stand to gain from volunteering??
1. Strategic networking:
Networking has to do with you forming relationships with people that have the potential to partner with you, connect you to relevant opportunities, inspire you, challenge you to be better, and generally play one part or another in helping you get to certain heights. In this post
we talked about how crucial surrounding yourself with the right people is to your personal development. Well, proper networking is one sure way you can do this. You know what they say about your network being your net worth…
From working together on a project or cause you’re mutually passionate about, or at least interested in, you elevate your associations by forming friendships and relationships with fellow volunteers. These relationships have the potential of continuing even after the volunteering ends, and can be great additions to your network.
2. Effective skills acquisition:
Most times, organizations go out of their way to equip you with the hard skills you need to function as a volunteer, whether or not you had pre-existing knowledge about it. Of course, when you acquire the skill it’s yours to keep for life. How cool is this??
Also, apart from the hard skills, volunteering also exposes you to transferable soft skills such as team work, public speaking, project planning, task management, problem solving, leadership, adaptability, communication and time management. These skills are transferable in the sense that they are not limited to a particular position, but can be applied in different scenarios and positions. So a soft skill you acquired while volunteering with Organization A can be used in Organization B, C, D…
Here’s a tip: identify relevant skills for your prospect career and take up volunteering opportunities that provide you with an avenue to acquire them.
3. Valuable work experience:
Well, if you’ve ever wondered how to get substantial work experience that employers almost always ask for, volunteering is one of the answers! Even if you want to start a business or something else, you just can’t go wrong with experience on your side. Certain work ethics, knowledge and skills you’d need to excel in the work place can be gotten from volunteering.
4. Solid point for other applications:
I got to find out that a lot of great opportunities out there require beneficiaries to have good volunteering history to qualify. So yes, if you have plans of applying for exchange programs, scholarships, grants, and the likes, you’d most likely need a remarkable volunteering record to make your application stand out.
5. Opportunity to make impact:
If you’re passionate about making positive impact, volunteering gives you an avenue to start doing just that. You don’t have to wait till you graduate or make a million bucks before you start doing something about that cause you’re passionate about: find an organization in line with it and contribute what you can. Volunteer with them, lend your voice or hands where need be. Do something for humanity, give back to the society, inscribe your name on the sands of time… Somehow someday it would pay off. Someone’s watching. History won’t forget.
6. Opens you up to more opportunities:
This can come in many different ways, including;
- Potential transition from volunteer to paid position.
- Recommendation for bigger and better opportunities.
- Connection to other opportunities through the people you networked with.
On several occasions this has been the case for a lot of volunteers, and I know this because I’ve experienced it too. Sometimes it’s as simple as it just positioning you to be in the right place at the right time, while other times it comes as a reward for your hard work and commitment. Whatever be the case however, volunteering can open doors for you. Don’t underestimate the power it has.
Can you now see the depth of wealth volunteering has to offer? Don’t sleep on it! Be intentional about volunteering, do it the right way, and be amazed at how much development it can bring you personally and professionally.
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