How to Benefit from Volunteering

Three Parts:Using Volunteering to Help Advance Your CareerVolunteering to SocializeVolunteering to Help You Stay Healthy

Volunteering is, of course, a great benefit to the community. Many nonprofit organizations couldn't survive without volunteers. However, you may not realize how much it also benefits your life to volunteer, from building up your career to making you healthier and more social.

Part 1
Using Volunteering to Help Advance Your Career

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    Volunteer in different areas. You may be tempted to just volunteer at one place, and that can be fine. However, volunteering at different places will expose you to different fields in the nonprofit sector, plus you'll get to work different types of jobs.[1]
    • Doing so can help you explore what you'd like to do later in life if you're younger or even choose a different career if you're a little bit older.
    • For example, volunteering at the library can help you learn what it's like to work in a field that deals with the public and relies heavily on organization. Working with the parks and recreation department to help keep the parks looking nice can teach you about ecology and what it might be like to be a park ranger.
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    Use it to build skills. Volunteering is the perfect opportunity to build your own skill set because while you are giving your time, you're also learning new things. You're basically working a job, and through that job, you gain experience that you can pass on to your work life.[2]
    • If you truly want to help yourself gain skills, think about the areas you're lacking in. Maybe you need to build social skills. In that case, volunteer somewhere where you can build up social skills, such as helping patrons at the library.
    • On the other hand, maybe you need to learn more about technology and how it's used in an office. In that case, maybe you could volunteer in a nonprofit's office.
    • In fact, it's that reason that many schools are now making service-learning a part of the classroom. Community organizations benefit from students helping them, and students get to learn skills and gain knowledge that they wouldn't be able to learn in the classroom.
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    Network while you volunteer. Another way to help work on your career is to use volunteering to help network. Really, you don't have to go out of your way to network. Just talk to people while you're volunteering and get to know them.[3]
    • Don't be afraid to ask someone to socialize after your volunteer work. For instance, if you volunteer with someone you like, see if they want to have coffee afterwards.
    • All networking is is making a connection with other people that you and they can rely on later, and volunteering can help you do that.
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    Increase your chances of being hired. Studies have shown that people who volunteer are more likely to be hired than people who don't volunteer. In fact, you have about a 25 percent higher chance of being hired if you volunteer than if you don't. If you don't have a high school diploma, that number increases to a 50 percent higher chance.[4]
    • Therefore, it's a good idea to put your volunteer experience on your resume, bring it up in your cover letter, and/or talk about it in your interview.
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    Put your volunteer experience on your college application. If you're still in high school, volunteering looks great on a college application. It shows leadership, initiative, and commitment, all things colleges love. Just be sure to include it on your application when you apply.[5]

Part 2
Volunteering to Socialize

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    Meet new people. Volunteering is a great way to meet new people and make new friends. You're introduced to a wide range of people when volunteering, from other people who are volunteering and staff members to clients you're helping. All of these people have the potential to be new friends.[6]
    • Don't be afraid to strike up a conversation with the people you meet. You never know who's going to be a new friend.
    • If you can't think of something to say, use the situation you're in to begin the conversation. For instance, you could say, "Isn't this building beautiful?" or "What led you to start volunteering here?"
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    Strengthen relationships. Another way volunteering can help your social life is to strengthen relationships you already have. When you volunteer with someone you know, you get to know that person better, whether that person is a member of your family or a co-worker.[7]
    • Pick a place you'd like to volunteer together, then commit to going regularly.
    • You don't need to do anything special. Just work alongside each other. Take your whole family along to bring you closer together.
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    Socialize, and keep the blues away. If you're prone to depression, volunteering can help combat depression. Partially, it helps because it forces you to be with other people, which in itself can help cut back on depression, as being socially isolated can increase depression.[8]
    • Make a commitment to volunteer regularly, such as at least once a week. Also, consider working with animals, as that can make you happier, too.

Part 3
Volunteering to Help You Stay Healthy

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    Pick active volunteering to stay healthier. Many volunteer jobs require you do some physical work, which can help you stay healthier, particularly if you don't get much exercise otherwise. To help your health the most, pick active volunteer jobs.[9]
    • For instance, volunteer with your parks and recreation department to clean up parks or with Habit for Humanity to build houses.
    • Even working at a food pantry can be fairly active, as you work to move food around and pack it up.
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    Let yourself feel accomplished. One way that volunteering contributes to a person's health is that it gives them something to feel accomplished about. If you're volunteering, go ahead and feel accomplished; it will help your health because it boosts well-being and gives you something to feel good about.[10]
    • Volunteering can be especially beneficial to your health if you're retired because it can give you a new sense of purpose. Many people find they feel even more satisfied volunteering than when they were working.
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    Feel less stressed. You may think that volunteering will make you more stressed because it cuts back on your free time, but most people find just the opposite. Most people feel like they have more time when they volunteer, which in turn, cuts back on stress.[11]
    • Stop waiting to volunteer until you have more time. Start now, and you'll start to feel like you have more time than you do.
    • The same principle applies to money. People who give money away to charities often feel like they have more of it.
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    Boost your self-esteem. Volunteering can help build up your self-esteem because you are helping other people. To make the effects stronger, pick something where you can see the people you are helping. It also can help to do something where the results are dramatic. For instance, when you volunteer for a place like Habitat for Humanity, you end up with a house for someone to move into, something that dramatically changes their lives.[12]
    • For instance, help in a soup kitchen, where you are working directly with people.
    • Another option is volunteering at the library.
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    Be happier. Studies have also shown that volunteering just makes you happier overall. From connecting to you people to boosting your confidence, these benefits all come together to make you happier. The key is to get out into your community regularly to help.[13]

Article Info

Categories: Volunteer and Community Service