Do you volunteer? If so, congratulations! According to a report released in 2013, only 44% of the Canadian population contributes their time and energy to charities and non-profits in helping to shape this world a better place. Other than the satisfaction of giving back and strengthening your community, volunteering has so much to offer you while on your path to self-discovery. Similar to a career, volunteering can help you develop many professional and versatile skills to set you up to succeed.
My advice? Don’t overlook the value of volunteering.
Here are four simple tips that will make volunteering ten times more memorable and rewarding than you’ll ever think.
Identify Your Goals
The one aspect that makes volunteering fantastic is that it doesn’t necessarily have to relate back to your education, skills, or specialty. It can relate to something you are interested and passionate about, too. Since tasks and responsibilities of a volunteer are so diverse, a lot of organizations may allow you to dip your toes in each and every department that they offer, depending on what they need help with. Identifying your goals early on can truly help you in narrowing down what you want to learn and what you want to do. If you aren’t completely certain of the latter questions, that’s okay! Jot down notes or key phrases of an ideal career or interest that you have, and do some research from there. You will be shocked at how many opportunities are out there when you are simply looking to donate your time for a cause. Ensure that what you are offering them and what they can offer you is a mutually beneficial relationship.
Treat your volunteering placement the same you would act with a job. Although you are volunteering your time, you are still responsible for your commitments and deadlines as you would be at a paying job.
Volunteering can be one of the most valuable tools that you can use to enhance your resume or career. In fact, consider volunteering as another way to market yourself! Ever heard of the phrase “Small world”? That tends to be very true in the corporate and non-profit world with everyone knowing one another, especially with the rise of social and digital media! Create a strong reputation for yourself, it will establish great opportunities for you in the future. Show up, be reliable, and be engaged.
The best volunteers are those who open themselves to new experiences and challenge themselves to try something new. Not only will it help broaden your horizons, but it’ll also help you build confidence in areas you may not be familiar with.
For example, you could be an Economics graduate, but you could be volunteering with the Children’s Wish Foundation on wish granting and special events. Volunteering is a fantastic way to network and try your hand at a different specialty without the cost of feeling inadequate or anxious. Organizations are aware and appreciative that you are there to donate your time and efforts, and that counts for more than enough! Be open to possibilities and always remember to ask for what you want.
Make It Meaningful
As a volunteer, you are donating your time and efforts for free, so don’t let it go to waste. Truly understand the value and mission of an organization and jump onboard fully and wholeheartedly. Don’t volunteer for the sake of volunteering and putting something extra on your resume or LinkedIn. Be honest with yourself and with the organization, and make it a memorable and impactful experience. Be engaged, express your thoughts, and give feedback whenever it’s needed. There might not be a time later in your life to give back to the community. A word of advice? Reflect on the impact that you are making with the work you are doing. Whether it be weekly, monthly, or bi-monthly, writing down the ways your work is impacting the community will truly make you feel important and valued as a volunteer. Not to mention, it’s a great memoir to keep and read once in a while to remember all of the experiences you have had and the impact you have made!
Seeing people succeed while doing what they love fires her up like no other. Aside from being the co-founder of DiscoverHER Project, Jess is a meeting planner by day and a wedding planner by night. Jess is passionate about giving girls and women around the world the same tools she used to get to where she is today. She believes in wearing her heart on her sleeve, doing everything out of a place of love, and empowering people around her to do the same. When she isn’t working, she’s most often found with a good book in hand, brunching with friends (hello mimosas!), or off exploring the world.