Volunteering is just good for the soul. Giving back in whatever way, shape or form makes us feel good – and makes some impact somewhere. But it also teaches us skills that we sometimes would not get at our entry-level jobs AND it helps us learn something new.
I have always found the need to give time to causes in community – and for me, community has meant my university space, my space of faith, my local neighbourhood, and my work team. My innate desire to give back has always been the feeling of wanting to make impact in someone (or in the case of the SPCA – something’s) life.
But as I reflect over years of giving back or volunteering in some space almost daily after my work day, I realize actually, that all these volunteer ‘jobs’ actually built me up for the career I have today, and some of those volunteer times also directly led to jobs! My first job at university was as a receptionist for the Student’s Union at the University of Calgary – I was asked if I wanted the job after I had volunteered at the Lost and Found Centre. And when I came back home to Kenya, I volunteered with the Aga Khan Community (my faith base) and also ended up being introduced to someone and getting a job I loved. The job I am at now was also an indirect engagement a decade ago with someone through a volunteer space.
As a volunteer, we work, no words. We work for no pay, and we learn to work with diverse types of people. In many cases we also learn to run projects at the highest level of efficiency possibly, often with fairly low financial resources. Teamwork is central, as is management, conflict resolution, project management and effective leadership – and most importantly, intercultural communication. Often you don’t learn these skills at a job till much later in your career. Employers more frequently look at voluntary service now too.
Volunteering also changes the world, in whatever little way. Ultimately, it also helps you build another community around yourself – a ‘tribe’ of sorts.
Today, many of us say we are too busy to give time, but perhaps that’s EXACTLY what we need!
So go ahead, volunteer, and build your career!