Five ways volunteering can help your career

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Many of us volunteer to help solve a pressing problem in our communities. But did you know that the time you give to an organization can also be a great professional development experience?

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Volunteering not only helps people in your community; it also helps your career. (Photo Credit: RISD Museum, Creative Commons/Flickr)

If you’re eager to advance your career, consider the following benefits of volunteering:

  • Develop new skills: Volunteering is a great way to develop a skill you may not use often in your day-to-day work.
  • Apply the skills you already have in new contexts: Sometimes we need new challenges to keep our skills sharp. Volunteering your time and talent to help an organization outside of work will allow you to leverage your skills in a new way.
  • Expand your network: People who are already involved in your target field are likely to know of new opportunities and can recommend organizations and people for you to get to know.
  • Explore new career paths: Volunteering can provide an entry-point to a new career. By volunteering, you can expose yourself to different kinds of organizations, roles, causes, and more.
  • Demonstrate passion to hiring managers: We know that hiring managers like to see genuine interest and understanding of the work their organization does, so it never hurts to have hands-on experience in the field you’d like to enter.

To ensure your volunteering experience helps you move your career forward, we’ve put together a few questions you should ask before taking on a new volunteer opportunity:

  • What are your personal and professional talents?
  • What skills would you like to apply in new ways? Keep sharp?
  • What skills or knowledge would you like to gain or learn from your volunteer experience?
  • Are you interested in contributing skills related to your career? Or would you prefer to do something entirely different?
  • Who do you want to work with, get to know, learn from?
  • Are there particular roles, careers, or organization types that you’ve been wanting to explore?

Has volunteering helped your career? Share your thoughts and experiences below!

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About Author

Editor at Idealist.org. Follow me on Twitter @ajlovesya and @idealistcareers

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