Wisdom Wednesday: Volunteering…What’s in it for me?

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We often talk about volunteering in terms of the positive impact we can make on our communities, but another approach in thinking about whether or not to get involved is: “What’s in it for me?” While it may seem like a self-centered question in a field that revolves around giving back to others, it’s a logical question. Fortunately, we have good news: volunteering has many benefits!

Succeed in School– Service-learning holds the potential to increase the attendance and engagement of students in classrooms and schools. It also engages students in classroom learning in ways that foster academic achievement and increase motivation to learn. Service-learning can also help to address underlying causes of low graduation rates, while incorporating the strategies most recommended for preventing students from dropping out.

Land Your Dream Job– A report by The Corporation for National and Community Service reveals that those that volunteer have a 27 percent better chance of finding a job than those who don’t. An additional study from the Center for Economic and Policy Research supports this claim, noting that unemployed people who volunteer between 20 and 99 hours during the year are roughly 7 percent more likely to have found employment one year later compared to those who don’t volunteer. Volunteering helps you build your experience, expand your network, and gain knowledge needed to switch fields.

Excel in the Workplace – Volunteerism allows individuals to develop key skills that are essential to success in the workforce. These skills include: leadership, communications, fundraising/business development, patience, problem solving, public speaking, and coaching/mentoring, among others.

Stay Happy and HealthyResearch conducted by UnitedHealth Group reveals that volunteers are more likely than non-volunteers to consider themselves in excellent or very good health, and they are more likely to say that their health has improved over the past 12 months. There is also a strong connection between volunteering and mental/emotional health: doing good helps us to stress less, and less stress is an important component to staying healthy.

Ready to improve your life? The GOAL Center will now be hosting monthly volunteer opportunities aimed at helping you engage with the community, increase your employability, and enhance your resume! Contact us for more information. Happy volunteering!

 

Wisdom Wednesday: The Alternative Spring Break

Are you looking for an alternative way to spend your Spring Break this year?

Many students are rethinking the traditional ideas for their Spring Break vacations. Instead of doing the usual spring break routine, you can get off the beaten path and make this week count by volunteering. You may think one week of time won’t make a difference, but opportunities to volunteer are everywhere and come in many different forms. Not only will you be giving back to your community, but you will also benefit from the experience in a variety of meaningful and lasting ways.

Volunteering: “What’s in it for Me?”

Volunteering can be far more than simply doing a good deed. In fact, volunteering can be a great way to develop job skills, learn more about career options, gain valuable professional contacts, interact with your community or even just change up your routine. But who’s to say that doing good for others while meeting your own personal and professional goals can’t happen at the same time?

Part of finding the right volunteer opportunity is being honest about what you hope to learn and accomplish. If in the process of meeting your personal and professional goals, you are also serving as an effective volunteer by helping to meet the goals of your chosen project or role, it’s a win-win situation.

5 Ways Volunteering Can Help You:

1. Enhance Your Resume

Volunteering helps you learn new skills, sharpen existing talents you may have, and use your expertise in new ways. The experiences that you choose in order to exercise these skills can be used to enhance your resume. Stating various volunteer projects and organizations that you’ve been affiliated with throughout the course of your college career can help set you apart from other job applicants that have the same set of career-related skills and experience as you.

If you fear that you may struggle to find a job right out of college, volunteering can also help compensate for periods of unemployment. Employers like to hire applicants that have an active work history. Volunteering during times of unemployment while in college can help your chances substantially.

2. Explore Career Options

Regardless of your age or career level, volunteering can introduce you to new professional career paths. Volunteering can be an excellent way to learn more about a particular role, work environment or cause.

In addition, volunteering can help you learn about yourself. You may have good idea of what career path you want to pursue, and volunteering can get you the experience you need to find out for sure. It is wise to actually experience the field of work before you invest your time and money into education and training.

3. Grow as a Person

Lifelong learning includes hands-on experiences as a volunteer which can teach you about a wide range of issues. The opportunity to engage with your community and interact with people from different walks of life can foster personal growth. These kind of experiences will broaden your worldview and positively affect your future endeavors, both personally and professionally.

In addition, sometimes it just feels good to be valued. As a volunteer you can contribute your unique skills, experiences, and perspectives to a cause that appreciates your time.

4. Build a Network

Never underestimate the power of networking. Volunteering offers the opportunity to cross paths with people from across your community, including many with whom you may otherwise not have had contact. In the future, you may be able to rely on these contacts for job references or tips concerning job openings. By building a network you will be better able to locate and secure a job following graduation.

In addition to professional networking, volunteering can be a fun and meaningful way to make new friends. It is always important to branch out and meet new people who have the same interests that you do. Friends can offer advice and help connect you to other beneficial opportunities.

5. Have an Impact

Last but not least, volunteering is one of the best ways to make a difference in your community. Whatever your passion, however you decide to get involved, volunteering offers a way to have a real and lasting impact. Put your Spring Break to good use for the well-being of your community and feel great about how you have chosen to spend your time.

Resources

Interested in learning more about great places to volunteer? Check out all of the great opportunities for volunteerism through The Dan River Center for Community Change. http://www.danrivercenter.org/volunteer