Volunteering can be one of the best and most rewarding things you do with your life. Not only is it a selfless act that goes towards improving society, but it can also bring individual rewards and improve the volunteer’s life. Here are some benefits of volunteering to contemplate.
Boost Your Employability
There is no doubt among employers that volunteering looks fantastic on any CV. It demonstrates unmatchable life experience, and shows initiative, character, and strong personal development.
Those volunteering straight out of university or college will instantly have more working experience than those who do not – so it makes them far more competitive in a crowded job market. Many employers have openly stated that they’ll choose those with volunteering experience on their CV, rather than those without.
If you pick the right sort of volunteering, it can also be directly beneficial to your chosen career. Pick a volunteering programme that is related in some way to what you’d like to do in the future and suddenly you have directly relevant experience that puts you way ahead of the pack. It can teach you transferable skills like leadership, time management, budgeting, punctuality, and working in a team; all things prospective employers look for.
Learn New Skills
There is practically no limit to the kind of volunteering you can do. The volunteering community is so expansive that it now reaches into virtually every industry and society, meaning there is a programme to suit every interest. Just check out the range that organisations like Projects-Abroad.co.uk offer.
If you’re considering a career in medicine, you can pick up skills in nursing and assisting medical practitioners in parts of the world where healthcare is hard to come by. You can learn essential building and other skills by volunteering on infrastructure or redevelopment projects in areas which desperately need revitalisation. Or you could volunteer on a conservation and environment project and learn skills in agriculture, animal handling, veterinary care or tree surgery. The list is endless and limited only by your imagination.
See the World
Volunteering is a global pursuit, and there are long-running programmes in place in almost every country in the world – including those you might not expect would normally welcome foreign help. Several countries in Africa, South America and Asia that, for whatever reason, are struggling economically with a large population in poverty will gladly welcome volunteers to perform vital work in assisting vulnerable people or communities.
Volunteering also gives you the chance to see corners of the world you might not have had the opportunity to see. And many projects exist in some of the more stunning and breathtaking parts of the planet.
You may find yourself volunteering on reforestation in the Galapagos Islands, surrounded by the friendly native tortoises. Or waking up to the view of the Himalayan mountains each morning before walking to your English teaching class in Nepal. Or work on a community farm Río Ceballos, in the simmering Argentinian sun. Name a country and the chances are there will be a volunteering project to suit you.
Make New Friends
Volunteering is almost always a social pursuit. Whether it’s the people you’re working for or your fellow volunteers, you’re bound to form a variety of new relationships – many, potentially, for life.
There’s a huge worldwide volunteering community, which you may get to know quite quickly, and it can possibly improve your social skills. Volunteering is also an invaluable networking opportunity, in which you have the chance to meet a huge and diverse range of people who you may want to work with in the future in a different capacity.
Improve Your Self-Confidence
Perhaps one of the more surprising side effects on a volunteer project is the boost in confidence and self-esteem. It’s quite straightforward when you think about it – with the immense sense of pride and accomplishment from contributing so much to a community comes a natural glow of positivity. Such pride feeds into a better self-view and a stronger feeling of identity, and a sense of satisfaction with life in general.
Volunteering is an inherently social activity – something that is hugely helpful in developing interpersonal skills. If you are someone who has had trouble with socialising and confidence in the past, the daily human interactions that form the basis of every volunteering project are a fantastic way to practise for life in the future.
It’s also something that can combat depression and other mental health conditions; a key risk factor for depression is social isolation. Regular contact with others and a solid support system, found in every volunteer programme, goes a great deal towards alleviating these feelings.
Gain a Sense of Achievement
Above all else, the overriding sense of altruism should be reward itself. After working hard on a project, few feelings match the sense of pride and accomplishment, especially when shared with new friends.
There are so many kinds of projects, including nursing abroad, conservation and human rights, and knowing that you’ve contributed something great to a community can boost your self-esteem and confidence. You may not be able to change the world, but you will be able to sleep knowing that you’ve made a small part of it that much better.
Article by Laura Alfonsin