Role of volunteering in choosing a career path

May 13, 2020 | by Brigita Brigita

For those who have just graduated, either from high school or university you might be facing a big question of ‘so then, what’s next?’ There are no specific figures about this, but you don’t have to worry because you are not alone. It is a very common question that almost everyone at this stage wonders about, after all choosing a career is not a piece of a cake.

Confused on what to do after graduating? - Try volunteering!

Confused on what to do after graduating? Try these options

A lot of options are out there for you, but to find the right one, it’s not easy. In order to make a decision for your career and your growth, you have to go through networking, exploring, and experiencing different capacities and roles in the area that you are interested in. Some professions might look glamorous or exciting from far, but when you actually start working in them, you realize that they are not meant for you.

But often, it’s difficult to accept that and to try to look for a change. More than anything else, our own psychological barriers stop us from accepting that and trying to make a change. Or in some cases, practical reasons like having responsibilities to take care of and starting a new profession might mean starting from scratch or taking a risk. Either way, sometimes it’s better to have a more clear idea about what to do while committing to a job than regretting it later on.

There’s a lot of ways for you to explore your career pathway and figure out which one that you enjoy the most before formally entering a profession, such as:

Consider your hobbies and turn it into a career

What’s better than earning money doing what you love, right? But what is important is not to just consider what your hobbies are, but also why you are enjoying them. With understanding the reason, you can open up to more career options down the road.

Try Aptitude test

Aptitude test will help you understand better your career preferences, what you are good at, and your style of work. However, you should have someone professional analyse the test results for you and keep in mind, what you are good at does not necessarily mean you will enjoy doing it for a living. So keep an open mind and use it just as a guidance and not as a definite answer.

Go to a Career Resource Center

Colleges usually have this center where you can check different job roles and opportunities. Besides that, they will have a Career Counselor that can help point you in the right direction. 

Interview a professional or shadow them

Call someone that has been working in your area of interest and someone that you admire in that field. and try to understand their day-to-day activities, or even ask them if you could tag along even just for a day. As unnerving as it might be to contact one of your idols, their positive response to help you might surprise you. And how great would it be to have them as a mentor for you!

Find an internship

If you already have some interest area in mind, then go find an internship in that field. This helps you to get exposure, build your track record, and open the door for future jobs. From this, you will not only gain actual experience but realistically evaluate if you enjoy that profession and also network!

Volunteer for a cause or area that you believe and interested in

Volunteering does not just give you a place to contribute back to society but also gives you a lot of benefits to shape your career path.

Download Artemis Impact app to connect with NGOs and build your social resume. 

How volunteering can help your career?

The main benefit from volunteering is actually to give you exposure and a lot of experience in different and as many capacities in areas that you are interested in, without having to commit to a nine-to-five job or commit every day for several months like when you join an internship program.

For example, a graduate from a mathematics program was confused about which field to pursue her career. Then, she tried to join a volunteer program for 6 months, where she had to teach mathematics every Sunday to kids that lived in slums and couldn’t go to school. 

From this experience, she figured out that mathematics was her true passion, and teaching this to kids in primary school age was what makes her even more excited.

So volunteering can help you to figure out:

  • Which area that you are passionate about?
  • Type of work that excites you the most, and
  • The working style that you enjoy

But, not just that. Actually, volunteering can bring you a lot more other benefits, such as:

Learning new skills

Volunteering can teach you a lot of new hard and soft skills. There are a lot of new things that you weren’t able to learn when you were in school; you can learn it here for free, e.g., photography & videography, art, digital marketing, making donation proposals, and pitching your program to donors or upper management. 

Beside that, you will learn on how to adapt in new environments, manage your time, be responsible, and multitasking – since volunteers usually don’t have specific job roles, and are instead required to be flexible and work on a lot of things that they can get involved in. 

One skill that you might not be able to find in other activities is persuading and exciting people to join activities that do not promise them any incentives whatsoever. It is really hard to do, but once you nail it, it will boost your leadership skills.

Expanding your network

This type of activity often brings a lot of people from different backgrounds or even different parts of the world together. From them, you will be able to gain a lot of knowledge and insights.

It is also part of expanding your career network. You will never know, the person you are volunteering with, the people that you help, or the donors that donate in your initiative, can be your mentor, the one that will share and connect you with your dream job, or even your future employer.

Build your personal brand

Branding is not just for corporations. As a person, you should be building your personal brand in order to stand out in the job market. And you should start to build that now, by understanding your unique value propositions.

A lot of volunteering programs will include a screening process, where you have to be able to figure out and display your interest, strengths & weaknesses, motivation, personality, and responsibility.

You will need to also start managing your social media, along with organizing your resume and portfolio in order to attract the organizer to choose you as a volunteer. It might sound difficult, but it could be good preparation and experience for your job recruitment process later on.

Add value to your resume

Putting your volunteering experience into your resume is actually a great way, especially if you are a fresh graduate or have been away from the workplace for such a long time, to present your key skills, such as on how you manage an event or a team, and your problem-solving skills.

A lot of major corporations right now put more interest in their future employee’s volunteering experience. It is not just about finding people that have the same value with the company, but they believe people that are volunteering have high empathy, work ethic, leadership skills, and ability to be a team player.

Get new ideas for your own business

For those who may not be interested in joining a company, volunteering could also help you to find fresh business ideas. When you are working in underserved communities or rural areas, you will be able to see real-life needs and challenges.

These challenges can be an opportunity for you to create revenue and also create an impact on the community, or we usually call it as a sociopreneur. You will also never know, maybe you will meet your co-founder among your group of volunteers!

Volunteering can be beneficial not just for you that would like to start your career path, but also for you that are trying to change your career, without putting too much risk of leaving your current job. Doing volunteer work is also good for your soul and lessens the stress in your life, therefore it can build a better you!

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