The Value of Volunteering
Volunteering has almost become a dirty word in some circles, and it’s not hard to see why: when you’re looking for a job, giving away your labour for free can seem counter-productive at first. In spite of this, statistics show that some 12 million Canadians take part in volunteer activities each year—that’s nearly half the population . Let’s take a closer look at what you gain when you decide to volunteer.
First and foremost, volunteering is a great opportunity to learn about yourself and what you enjoy doing. No matter where your interests lie, chances are there is a volunteer opportunity out there for you. Do you love animals? Volunteer at your local animal shelter. Are you passionate about the arts? Volunteer at a music festival. Think you might want to become a doctor? Volunteer at a hospital. You might love it and decide you want to pursue a career in that field—or you might discover that a particular job just isn’t for you. Either way, you’re gaining valuable self-learning and awareness. Volunteering is the ultimate tool for exploring your interests and experimenting with different kinds of work.
Not only can volunteering give you a chance to indulge your hobbies and find your passion, it looks great on a resume. Whether you spend a year doing it or just a weekend, volunteer experience can signal to employers that you’re the kind of person who has varied interests, takes initiative and isn’t afraid to try new thing. Given the number of resumes most employers go through, it never hurts to have something that sets you apart from the crowd.
Another area where volunteering can be invaluable is networking. If you’re having a hard time finding work in a particular field, volunteering is a great way to break into the industry and get your name known. The contacts you meet through volunteering could serve you as references in the future, or they might be able to let you in on trade secrets or even job opportunities that aren’t available to the general public. Most organizations are extremely grateful for the work volunteers do and are more than willing to help you out if they can, so don’t be afraid to ask.
The final reason to try out volunteering is the simplest: it feels good to give back. Volunteers are the lifeblood of many charitable organizations; without them, the good work these places do would never be possible. Keep in mind that volunteering is best experienced when it’s something that you find personally meaningful. Luckily, given the wealth of volunteer opportunities out there, finding one that matches your passion (and fits your schedule) shouldn’t be too difficult.
This article has covered a few of the main benefits of volunteering, but don’t take our word for it. Get out there and discover the value of volunteering for yourself!