By Anusha Shrivastava, Ph.D.
Volunteering is a good way to help others while also helping yourself.
Giving your time and sharing your expertise not only helps improve the lives of the people you are working with but also boosts your resume. You are demonstrating that you are willing to work with others and be involved in your community.
The kind of organization you choose to volunteer at will reveal something about you. If it’s a non-profit serving children, it shows you care about their development. If it’s a group that helps mentor young statisticians, it means you want to be involved in the field outside of your classes. If it’s an organization that has nothing to do with what you are studying or in an area you likely won’t work in, it shows you are willing to flex a different kind of muscle to try something new.
In any of these scenarios, you are enhancing your career in ways you may not have realized when you committed a chunk of your week towards volunteering.
Here are a few:
- Your personal and professional network expands each time you sign up to volunteer for an event or organization. You meet people you may not have crossed paths with and many of them could one day serve as references because they are seeing you perform tasks outside of your regular schedule.
- With every new volunteer opportunity, you show initiative and ability to work with people outside your comfort zone.
- You use skills ranging from event-planning to fundraising that you may already possess. You may even end up acquiring new skills. Some volunteer opportunities require you to take exams or undergo extensive training. This shows you are willing to stretch yourself and upgrade your qualifications.
- Volunteering requires a high level of effective communication, so your work shows you are team player who responds to requests in a timely fashion and one who is able to share insights and experience with others.
- You can stay connected with people from different fields or when you change career paths when you volunteer.
- You build a track record of volunteering over the many decades that you will be working. It may be that you enjoy volunteering in a field to the extent that you switch careers and train to work full-time in the field you had initially just volunteered in.
None of this is to say you should volunteer only to strengthen your resume. That will happen on its own, even as you volunteer for personal satisfaction and the sheer desire to give back to the world.
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