Volunteering as a Career Boost: How Giving Back Can Enhance Your Professional Development

Volunteering is an act of an individual or group freely giving time and labour, often for the benefit of others.  With busy lives, it can be hard to find time to volunteer. However, the benefits of volunteering can be enormous. Volunteering offers vital help to people in need, worthwhile causes, and the community, but the benefits can be even greater for you, the volunteer. The right match can help you to find friends, connect with the community, learn new skills, and even advance your career.

As we celebrate International Volunteers Day, let’s explore how volunteering can serve as a catalyst for enhancing your career through Tobi, Miriam and Basco’s story .

Professional Workplace Etiquettes and Skills Development

Volunteering offers a unique setting to cultivate and hone essential workplace skills. From communication and teamwork to leadership and problem-solving, volunteers often find themselves immersed in situations that require these skills. For instance, working in a team on a volunteer project can mirror dynamics found in professional settings, providing valuable experience in collaboration and conflict resolution.

Tobi’s Story: Tobi, an undergraduate, decided to volunteer at Akure Tech Hub, a Digital Innovation Hub  focused on social innovation and grassroots development. Through his volunteer work, he was entrusted with managing the subscribers at the co-working space. This experience allowed Tobi to refine his communication  and presentation skills, and develop a deeper understanding of community engagement and customer relationship —a journey that significantly bolstered his resume.

Networking with Industry Leaders

Volunteering can serve as a powerful avenue for networking with prominent figures in your industry. Whether it’s through industry-specific events, conferences, or community projects, volunteers often find themselves in close proximity to established professionals and industry leaders. 

Miriam’s Story: Miriam, a front-end engineer, volunteered at a series of tech communities to host conferences and events for the community. Her proactive involvement allowed her to engage directly with influential industry leaders who were speakers or sponsors at these events. Through volunteering, Miriam not only contributed to the success of these events but also established meaningful connections with industry experts, leading to mentorship opportunities and valuable insights that guided her developer  journey.

Gateway to Full-Time Roles and Networking Opportunities

Volunteering often serves as a bridge to full-time employment. Many organisations use volunteer programs as a talent pool, offering paid roles to dedicated and passionate volunteers. Moreover, volunteering presents excellent networking opportunities, allowing individuals to connect with professionals and expand their circle.

Basco’s Story: Basco, a designer, dedicated his free time to volunteer at a non-profit as a graphics designer, handling their social media and marketing designs. His commitment and expertise caught the attention of stakeholders within the organisation, leading to discussions about potential job openings. Basco’s volunteer experience not only secured him a full-time design role but also provided a network of industry contacts that proved invaluable throughout his career. Today, Basco works as the lead designer at the non-profit.

Asides from the career benefits listed above, here are some ways volunteering can also benefit you, the volunteer.

Provides a sense of community: Volunteering can help you feel connected to those you are helping in the community. This experience may make you want to get involved with other aspects of your community, such as local politics or advocating for programs you believe are important.

Helps you meet new friends: Volunteering is a great way to meet new friends as well as strengthen existing connections with friends, family or coworkers. As a volunteer, you’ll typically interact with people from diverse backgrounds, which allows you to learn other perspectives.

Improve  your social skills: Volunteering gives you a chance to talk to new people and sharpen your social skills  like active listening and relationship management.

Improves self-esteem: When you do something you feel is worthwhile and valuable for your community, it gives you a sense of accomplishment that may help you feel more fulfilled about your life and any future goals.

Teaches you valuable skills: The training and hands-on experience you gain while volunteering can help you learn new skills as well as build upon ones you already have. 

Gets you out of your comfort zone: Through volunteer work, you may overcome the personal challenges of leaving your comfort zone and doing something new with people you may not know.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *