By Lauren | June 2, 2014 | 0 Comment
Why should I volunteer? I have a great job working in my industry, and now that I have real world experience, it shouldn’t be that hard to get a new job when I choose to move on, right?
Well you may be right, but whether you are still a student looking for real world experience or a professional in the industry, volunteering can still provide you with great experience to add to your resume. Not to mention that often my volunteer experience is brought up more in interviews than my work experience.
Volunteering doesn’t have to be as dreadful as your 40 hours you had to do in high school. The amount of volunteer opportunities out there for students and young professionals is insane and it’s pretty easy to find some that are actually fun and of interest to you.
When I was in college I didn’t really see the value in volunteering. It was stupid of me really, but I only volunteered the odd time, and only when it was for someone or something that was relevant to my career path. I’ve really only seen the value of volunteering over the past few years that I’ve been working full-time, and now I actively seek out new opportunities.
So where do you start when looking for the perfect volunteer opportunity for you? Start off by looking up relevant events for your career and background. For example, since I live in Toronto there are a large number of conferences that happen throughout the year related to marketing, social media and public relations. Often these conferences are too expensive for me to attend them all, so not only does volunteering give me great experience in the industry, but also a free pass to the event itself.
The key to this is to look up all the conferences happening within the year and make sure to contact people well in advance. Often for larger events, they start recruiting volunteers months in advance. To be sure you get a position that you’d enjoy and don’t miss out, make sure to reach out to the volunteer committee ASAP. Even if you contact them too early, they will add you to their database!
But why is it so important to volunteer actively in your industry? First off, it gives you added experience on your resume. It shows employers that yes you are working full-time or attending school full-time, but you are so committed to your field and your career that you are actively seeking out new opportunities to network, better yourself professionally and get involved. Not to mention this is a great opportunity for you to network and meet new people in your industry. Even if you aren’t looking for a job, you never know when these connections may come in handy down the road.
So get out there and get involved and don’t look down upon volunteering/working for free. I’ve had some pretty sick volunteer opportunities that didn’t involve doing coat check for 24 hours, or cleaning up messes after an event. You just have to have the willingness to seek out these opportunities and not wait for them to come to you!