Five ways volunteering can help your career

Many of us volunteer to help solve a pressing problem in our communities. But did you know that the time you give to an organization can also be a great professional development experience?


Volunteering not only helps people in your community; it also helps your career. (Photo Credit: RISD Museum, Creative Commons/Flickr)

If you’re eager to advance your career, consider the following benefits of volunteering:

  • Develop new skills: Volunteering is a great way to develop a skill you may not use often in your day-to-day work.
  • Apply the skills you already have in new contexts: Sometimes we need new challenges to keep our skills sharp. Volunteering your time and talent to help an organization outside of work will allow you to leverage your skills in a new way.
  • Expand your network: People who are already involved in your target field are likely to know of new opportunities and can recommend organizations and people for you to get to know.
  • Explore new career paths: Volunteering can provide an entry-point to a new career. By volunteering, you can expose yourself to different kinds of organizations, roles, causes, and more.
  • Demonstrate passion to hiring managers: We know that hiring managers like to see genuine interest and understanding of the work their organization does, so it never hurts to have hands-on experience in the field you’d like to enter.

To ensure your volunteering experience helps you move your career forward, we’ve put together a few questions you should ask before taking on a new volunteer opportunity:

  • What are your personal and professional talents?
  • What skills would you like to apply in new ways? Keep sharp?
  • What skills or knowledge would you like to gain or learn from your volunteer experience?
  • Are you interested in contributing skills related to your career? Or would you prefer to do something entirely different?
  • Who do you want to work with, get to know, learn from?
  • Are there particular roles, careers, or organization types that you’ve been wanting to explore?

Has volunteering helped your career? Share your thoughts and experiences below!

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Comments (6)

  1. Melanie writes:
    July 17, 2012 at 8:35 pm

    True story. Indeed volunteering has helped my career. I’m an Americorps alum and was placed in leadership positions based on my association with this great volunteer service organization. Currently I’ve been doing a lot of work volunteering with the board of education and learning valuable skills that are transferable. I’d just say ‘don’t be weary in well doing for in time you shall reap.’ (Bible inspired)

  2. joy kemakolam writes:
    July 18, 2012 at 5:42 am

    Working as a volunteer has helped me alot by making me to decide in which aspect 2 focus my career.

  3. Musa Abdulahi Sufi writes:
    July 18, 2012 at 6:48 am

    Volunteering as the most valuable strategy for personal and organisation is a key to professional and sustainable development

  4. Abdirizak writes:
    July 18, 2012 at 12:38 pm

    Volunteering made me understand the world Orgs those work voluntry and also I get advantage from

  5. […] 5 Ways Volunteering Can Help Your Career [Idealist] […]

  6. Alberto Pence writes:
    July 26, 2012 at 3:07 am

    There’s nothing wrong in volunteering. You will learn more while doing this kind of thing. Providing your service to those in need for free is something you will never regret.

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