The Benefits of Volunteering for Professionals

"The best way to find yourself, is to lose yourself in the service of others." - Ghandi

Everyone reading this should be volunteering in some sort of capacity. I know. You’re busy at work and have no time. You also want a social life or family time. When in the world are you going to find time for volunteer work? Well, you better make time. We all work and live in a great community and it is our responsibility to give back. We get so much more back in return from volunteering. Let’s face it, aside from the altruistic reasons to volunteer, it can be fun and it makes you feel good to help others.

So, let’s break it down. What exactly are the benefits of volunteering?

It’s up to you
Unless you are volunteering through a corporate volunteer program, you can choose what organization or cause you want to help. You can also decide just how much time you have to give. You can do something completely unrelated to your job like building a home or reading to children or do something that uses your skills as a public relations professional.

Feel good about yourself while helping others
On a purely selfish level, volunteering makes you feel good about yourself. There are few things more satisfying than helping people. Hammering nails on a new home while the owner beams with pride right next to you is an amazing feeling. Walking or running to raise funds for a cause close to your heart helps to give you a sense of purpose and helps you realize just how lucky you are. As a volunteer, you will gain new perspective – it’s so easy for us all to get a little too wrapped up in our own lives.

Build your portfolio
From a professional standpoint, volunteering is a great way to add to your portfolio. From press releases to design pieces, from public speaking to fundraising, you will have the opportunity to build your portfolio. This is especially beneficial for students or young professionals, although all of us should continually work on building our portfolios.

Focus on your expertise
Unfortunately, sometimes at work we are not in a position to take full advantage of our expertise or skills. A great way to do exactly what you want to be doing is by volunteering. Any non profit will be thrilled to have you lend your expertise to their project, event or committee. If you’re not satisfied at work, you may be able to feed that need through volunteering.

Add to your skill set
There is no greater way to expand or add to your skill set than by volunteering. And, it’s free. Maybe you always wanted to take a design class in school but didn’t have time. How about designing an invitation for an event? You’ll learn the basics of design and maybe some new software as well. If you don’t write press releases often at work, you can always volunteer writing services to beef up your writing skills. Even if you’re serving on a committee and not creating something tangible, you are still adding skills by interacting with professionals from other industries. Don’t be afraid to take on a leadership role, even if you are fresh out of school.

Expand your network
Everyone knows the value of a good network and we all should constantly expand our network of contacts. You never know where that next job or client will come from and it’s always helpful to have people you can call on for help in your job. It’s also good to have a network of people in your community who are not in public relations. The more people you know, the more opportunities there are out there for you.

There are probably many other benefits you will find in your volunteer work that I didn’t mention above. It will be a different experience for everyone because it’s very personal. One other benefit to giving back – your children will notice. If you make it part of your life, chances are your children will do the same. One of the best things you can do as a volunteer? Help inspire another generation of volunteers.

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