Volunteer positions are amazing ways for you to make a difference in your community, impact lives, and change the world. Yes, that sounds cliché, but it’s true. A little hard-work from a group of dedicated volunteers can go a long way!
When I was in university, I completed over 1000 hours of community service. I was passionate about helping people, so I got involved in a variety of activities – mentoring international students, volunteering at a children’s hospital, and helping first-year university students adjust were a few of my major roles.
Why did I do this? Not only did it make for a very rewarding few years, it also helped my career. This is because volunteering can help you:
- Develop your brand
- Increase visibility and credibility
- Grow your network
- Gain experience
All of these will be important throughout your career, and especially important if you’re still a student. Volunteering is an awesome way to get your foot in the door!
What I notice a lot of people struggling with is deciding where they should volunteer. Choosing where to volunteer is an important decision because this experience will ultimately contribute to your future. It will provide you with skills, experience, and a network that relate to the field that you’re volunteering in. So, to get the most out of your time, it will be important that you apply for opportunities that are relevant to you.
Here’s what you should keep in mind when choosing where to volunteer:
1. What are your goals?
The first thing to do is to consider your overarching career goals. Ask yourself where you want to be in 5-10 years and what type of volunteer opportunities will help you get there. Everything you do in your present will impact your future, so considering your long-term objectives is critical.
Before I started volunteering, I took the time to assess what I really wanted. The answer for me was simple: I wanted to mentor people and help them achieve their goals. So, I applied for volunteer positions in leadership and educational programs. This gave me rich training experience that I continue to draw on in my career.
2. What experience do you want to gain?
Once you’ve taken where you want to go into account, it’s time to think about how you’re going to get there. What experience will you need? Think generally: communication, relationship-building, and leadership skills can all be gained through volunteering. Some roles will be more dynamic than others, so be sure to take an inventory of what the position involves before applying.
3. What are you interested in?
Volunteering should be meaningful to you, so take your interests into account when you choose a new position. If you’re passionate about helping children but want to establish a career in marketing, consider looking for positions at nonprofit organizations such as the Make-A-Wish Foundation or children’s hospitals. Usually, they will have administrative roles available that could get you exposure to marketing or promotions while you do something positive for your target demographic.
Finally, the big question: where can you look for volunteer opportunities?
If you’re a student, a great way to get involved is to check out opportunities in your community or at university. University websites usually have a clubs page that you can browse, and your student council will likely also have opportunities available. You can also visit the websites of nonprofit organizations in your area to explore volunteer opportunities there!
If you’re in Toronto, click here to find a database that matches you to volunteer opportunities based on your interests, preferences, and location.
Do you have any questions about where you should volunteer based on your interests and goals? Let me know in the comments section and I’ll get back to you!