Volunteering is more than something to add to your résumé (though it’s definitely great for that too). The benefits of giving back to your community are potentially life-changing, and right now is the perfect time to lend a hand.
Learn Soft Skills
Your college classes are equipping you with all the hard skills you’ll need in that future dream job. But research shows that employers pay attention to soft skills (like public speaking, leadership and being a team player) too. Volunteering can provide a low-pressure environment to work on these, so make sure you take full advantage of the opportunity to grow through service — training new volunteers or leading a team might seem intimidating at first, but the experience you’ll gain from doing it is invaluable.
Discover New Interests
Volunteering can help you discover new passions that you might not otherwise find through your job or classes. You might learn you enjoy mentoring others after tutoring kids at your local elementary school, or realize you have a knack for event planning after helping a nonprofit host a fundraising gala. Discovering new interests will give you a better idea of what you’d like your dream job to look like and keep you motivated toward all your future #BauerGoals.
Meet Different People
One of the greatest parts about volunteering is that people of many different backgrounds like to do it. Joining the efforts of a cause you’re passionate about can provide a great avenue for you to meet new people who you might have more in common with than you realize. You could end up making lifelong friends, work references or valuable contacts. Or maybe even all three.
Put Your Skills to Practice
There are a lot of different opportunities to volunteer and plenty of ways to use the skills you already have to benefit an organization. Many nonprofits are looking for people with specific experience that you probably already have from your classes or past work experience. Things like helping an organization balance their books, create presentations or improve their social media marketing will let you put your skills to practice while benefiting a good cause.
In the world of job hunting, references really do matter. And while getting recommendations from your professors is a valuable option, it’s also a good idea to include references from people who have seen you at work. Including volunteer supervisors and other nonprofit employees in applications will provide potential employers with references who can attest to your work ethic, ability to work in teams and capacity follow directions — all things employers want to know about!
While there are lots of benefits to volunteering, ultimately, the best reason to do it is to give back to your community. There are over 15,000 nonprofits in the greater Houston area covering needs in things ranging from homelessness and hunger to animal rights and disaster relief. Find a cause you’re passionate about and start researching how you can give back to our great Bayou City.
By Priscilla Aceves