Community service isn’t only about giving. In fact, there are real ways in which lending your time can help build you up in both personal and professional aspects of life. If you’re a college student, young professional, or just building your own brand, you’ll find there are more ways
then one to volunteer.
7 Practical Benefits of Volunteering
For some people, volunteering is a lifestyle. To devote a portion of your life to the peace corps is a major commitment, one that can seem a little out of reach for some who have their own personal obligations.
Don’t compare yourself to professional volunteers; instead, take the steps that feel right for you to move in the direction of selflessness. It costs so much less than you think, and offers rewards that you may have not even considered.
Here are some benefits of volunteering that can balance out or support your personal ambitions.
1. Resume Building
Remember when your high school counselor helped you prepare college applications? That was probably one of the last times you were urged to volunteer. It was that added piece of your transcripts that turned you into a well-rounded candidate with more than just good grades.
The same is true in the ‘real world.’ Yes, companies are looking for the most effective employees, but they also just want good people. Volunteering is the perfect way to go that extra mile and get you noticed–just like you did on college applications.
By including volunteer activities on your resume, it shows your potential employer:
- You are a team player
- You think beyond yourself and care about the big picture
- You have real-world skills beyond the classroom, such as organizing, marketing,
- You see a need and fill it
- You’re worth the investment to hire
2. Avoid Hopelessness During Job Search
Searching for a job can be a job in itself, and a very stressful one at that. The pressure to find a job after graduation or due to an unexpected job loss can take a real toll on your mental health. Thanks to COVID, more people than ever are feeling the strain of being deemed “nonessential.”
Even if you don’t have a job, you can do a job that is not only essential to society, but can be integral to landing you a paying role. With unemployment rates higher than they’ve ever been, competition isn’t cooling off. Volunteering gives you an edge against competition, and a sense of purpose to boot.
The Bowery Mission provides life-sustaining support in many ways to the community. They offer food, support, clothing, and shelter for those in need. If anything, COVID has increased that need, leading to plenty of spots available for you to join the essential efforts.
For the sake of your job search and your mental health, spend some time volunteering. It will give you the chance to build connections, get real-world experience, and enjoy a feeling of accomplishment by volunteering.
3. Get Noticed by Being Clever
You’ll find that there are ways that volunteering can actually help pave the way to your dream job. You just need to be a little clever about it.
Jobs in non-profit companies exist, and can give you a paycheck to go along with your good vibes. Even if they’re not hiring at the moment, volunteer your time and show you’re devoted to the cause. In time, they’ll see your worth, opening up the potential for a job lead. If you’re more big-business minded, don’t’ look away. Volunteering can help you land that corporate job just the same.
Often, big corporations will donate to organizations that matter to them. Google even created a portal–called GoVolunteer–specifically devoted to finding volunteer opportunities with nonprofits. AllState, GE, and Bank of America are all examples of major corporations that are known to support volunteering and match employee donations. This is the case more often than not, as donations and volunteering on a corporate level means earning big tax breaks. If you want to work for big business, be big-business minded. Find out what organizations your dream corporation donates to and volunteer there! You’re helping out a cause, creating a common goal, and with a little luck, you might shake hands with someone who can get you through the door. Even if you don’t, having the organization on your resume that you know they care about will definitely help you stand out from other applicants.
4. Enjoy Your Passion (and Keep Your Day Job)
Let’s face it, passions don’t always pay the bills. A lot of the time, we have to put doing what we love on the backburner so we can get to work to keep the lights on and put food on the table.
Seriously, being an adult is exhausting, so making the time to do what you love isn’t always easy. But if you combine your passion with a volunteer opportunity, you get a surprising kickback.
For starters, you’re sharing your passion with others–and that’s a great feeling. It can often feel like the art you create never gets noticed, and volunteering to spend time doing it with others gives you some well-deserved spotlight.
Volunteering with the arts also spreads that fire, and the people you meet and the stories you hear can become integral and groundbreaking pieces to your artwork.
You can connect with amazing organizations like Dance/NYC, Free Arts NYC, and Sing for
Hope that can use your creative time to do good. Let your day job be your day job, and spend your free time on things that really matter to you. Who knows, you may find it more rewarding than any paying gig you’ve had.
5. Avoid Becoming a Couch Potato
Excuses and laziness won’t get you anywhere, but it seems to be everywhere in adulthood. As adults, we find ourselves on the couch when we are:
- Between jobs
- Too broke to go out
- Too “tired” after work
- Friends are too busy with their lives
Any of these reasons, or more, can lead you straight to Netflix and chill. It might feel like it’s all you want to do, but it can quickly become boring. And the more bored you are, the more boring you are. Not only that, but you’re wasting the privilege you have to enjoy a warm and comfortable home.
Before you even think about ordering delivery again, consider spending some time offering hot meals to the homeless. There are plenty of other ways you can help fight hunger by donating to City Harvest or God’s Love We Deliver. The best thing is that they do most of the leg work–they just need some helping hands to spread the love.
Stand up and say no to your inner couch potato and spend some time volunteering. Being “too tired” isn’t an excuse, either, because we all know watching Netflix keeps you up way past your bedtime, anyway. And if you really don’t feel like leaving the house, there are plenty of ways to volunteer from the comfort of your own home.
6. Valuable Networking
One of the best benefits of volunteering is getting to know people you’d otherwise never meet. Whether it’s Betty whose son owns a local taqueria or Dan who knows a guy who knows a guy who works downtown, volunteering offers lots of networking opportunities. There really is truth in the adage “It’s not what you know but who you know.” Volunteering is a surefire way of expanding who you know.
Volunteering is not only about business, it’s also about love. Just like you might meet someone who can get you a job, you might also meet someone who wants to take you out on a date. There are plenty of reasons why it’s a good idea to scope out singles by volunteering. All you have to do is take the first step in joining a cause and seeing who else is drawn to the same thing
7. Boost Your Brand Image
Volunteering has plenty of individual benefits, but we can’t ignore the benefits of volunteering for your brand. If you are an entrepreneur, volunteering can help establish your brand in the community. People love to see that businesses care, which makes you more likable. And if customers like you, they’ll support your business.
You might even find they will put aside inexperience in the field if you can display and prove your community involvement. Investing in your community through volunteering is just as effective as investing in marketing, and all it costs is your time.
So, Why is Community Service Important For You?
If none of these suggestions spoke to you, dig deeper. Think of your own family members, some of them who might need help, and how important it would be to you to know there was a good Samaritan out there that offered support. In your community, that could be you.
As another old adage goes: nothing ventured, nothing gained. Volunteering provides you with so many things: a purpose, an outlet for your passion, a boost to your business. Oh, and if that’s not enough, it also makes you feel warm and fuzzy inside.
In the end, don’t worry about volunteering “for all the right reasons.” Any reason is a good reason!
North Node helps connect volunteers and nonprofits, where everyone enjoys the benefits of volunteering.
Places to Donate/Volunteer
Local Food Banks
NYC Coronavirus Crisis Resources