Many people will tout the benefits of volunteering to be the knowledge that you are helping others who are in need of your help and the personal satisfaction that you get by being a part of a group working toward a common goal. Indeed, these are two of the most prominent benefits of donating your time. The people I volunteer with are amazing individuals with a varied background and interesting perspectives and careers. Meeting once or twice a month at various events is gratifying and enjoyable for all of us and we take our roles very seriously.
Often, especially today, people are consumed with their lives and personal situations. As a result volunteering falls to the end of the “To Do List”… or falls off of the list completely and I’d argue that’s a mistake. In November I left my company and have found that getting back into the game is both mentally challenging and exhausting. At a time when I could easily forego volunteering, I have found it to be a nice reprieve from my job hunt and a great way to meet new people, network and grow relationships that I have let lapse.
Several of the people I have met and volunteered with have been essential in my job hunt. I’ve met many new contacts, gotten my resume into the hands of people I would not have been able to access without the help of these people, and have found that seeing everyone is refreshing and inspiring. I’ve attending events thanks to these new friends and have also brainstormed when I have found myself running in circles. I’ve also been able to keep things in perspective, meaning there are people out there who are not as fortunate as I – they do not have the contacts or work experience I am lucky enough to have and so their hunts can be more challenging. (Imagine being a doctor in your home country but not being able to qualify for a home nurse or health aid here.)
My point: Maybe it’s ok to donate your time with a slightly selfish motive. I didn’t begin volunteering my time due to a need to network with other professionals but it has come in quite handy now that I find myself back in the market for a job. As we often tell clients at the Networking Workshop I attend, people want to help others and will happily do so when they can.
So, if you find yourself with a spare hour or two (or more) each month and you want to get involved with a great organization, reach out to local organizations you feel you can benefit. You will be helping out and you never know when you will be able to leverage the experience and people you meet.