This is kind of a double post because I want to talk about the importance of volunteer work on a resume for career purposes, but volunteerism is also so integral to happiness. It breaks my heart a little bit when I find people that don’t volunteer their time at all ever. Its such a win-win!! A good deed will make you feel good, it will increase your appeal to potential employers and it helps other people.
I’m really addicted to Friends so here’s the clip about no selfless good deed if you’d like to watch it.
From a Social/ Happiness Perspective
Social Psychologists have coined the term egoism for this underlying motive to increase ones own welfare (vs alturism which aims to increase another welfare). The problem with looking at helping others as purely egotistic is that you create circular reasoning, why do you volunteer–>for the good feelings and boost in my well being–>how did you know there would be good feelings–>Why else would I have volunteered? In my opinion and experience you can and should be simultaneously egotisic and altruistic about helping others.
Everyone has a passion and it is up to you to find somewhere you can give some time that you are passionate about. If you hate animals (is that even possible?!) the humane society is probably not the best place for you to volunteer however if you love animals its probably a great place to spend some time. The wonderful thing about volunteering? You can pick a place that works with your schedule and you can choose how much time to give and when to call it quits.
i remember as a child participating in the trick-or-treat for UNICEF campaign where we would wear the little boxes to collect money for UNICEF and I always thought it was a really great cause. The program has changed now for safety reasons but it does still exist. A few years ago, I volunteered with UNICEF for just the month of October. I specifically went into different schools and got to stand in front of everyone at an assembly and give a presentation about who UNICEF is and help the kids get really passionate about the program by showing them how they can make a difference in the lives of children all over the world. This volunteer position was really rewarding for me, it brought me back to my childhood and helped me to get other kids passionate about this program. I specifically have a passion for UNICEF because I believe that with it being associated with the United Nations and a government led program rather than a religious based program gives it advantages that other similar programs don’t have. But that’s just me. All these organizations do amazing work, volunteer with red cross or the Salvation Army. If you are passionate about children then this is a great way to go! (P.S. If you are interested in volunteering with UNICEF click here for more information)
There are literally thousands of organizations out there that could use your help. Are you a trades person? Go to habitat for humanity. Want to connect with victims of sexual abuse? Talk to the sexual assault center or Zebra in Edmonton if you want to work with children, or the police victim services unit if you want to work with victims in general. If you have a passion for eating or cooking go volunteer at the food bank or a shelter. There are SO many options, big brothers big sisters, cross cancer or stollery hospitals, the zoo, Starbucks even (they have big community events where they plant trees and stuff!) etc. And if you don’t want to or can’t devote a lot of time to volunteering all of these organizations will have events a couple times a year where they could use volunteers. This could include one big fundraising day where they may just need someone to volunteer for the day to hand out balloons with their logo on it. It doesn’t matter where you volunteer or how much time you give to them the fact that you are there will benefit you and them. (Did you know that some of Edmonton’s biggest events need volunteers and reward their volunteers well. The taste of Edmonton for example will give you coupons so that you can go and try all the food if you volunteer for a few days…and quite a lot of coupons too! Some music festivals will let you watch the entire show if for free if you help clean up or stamp wrists!)
I can personally attest to the benefits of donating your time in a capacity like this, life is just better. Its like doing your homework, the worst part is opening your book. Then you remember that you chose this class for a reason, the subject matter is actually really interesting and you find yourself enjoying the study time. The hardest part of volunteering is walking out the door.
I mentioned in a previous post that I was amazed at the sense of community that you can find in a large city and said that if you don’t believe me you have never seen a crisis. The sad thing is that a lot of people wait until there is a crisis to help. People don’t care until there is massive amounts of suffering. The girl with cancer doesn’t get noticed until she is directly related to you or on TV. I do believe the world is a good place. When times get desperate people help. However, together we can be proactive and help people without needing a catastrophe to kick us in the butt. Husband and I have discussed our desire to get our son involved in the community at a young age. Whether that means making thank you cards for the local police or fire department, dropping off cookies to a senior center, or giving toys away to kids who need them more, we feel it is important to teach him at a young age the importance of community and altruism. I hope that you feel the same about your family (future, potential or current) and that you understand the difference a couple of hours a week can make both in your life and the life of someone else.
From A Career Standpoint
I love the movie, “He’s Just Not That Into You” because I love the basic premise…we hear stories all the time about things working out in weird and wonderful ways and then we make erroneous conclusions based on that one incident forgetting that that situation was “the exception not the rule”
Some people graduate high school, go right to university (and possibly grad school) and land their dream career bam. bam. bam. They are the exception not the rule. Repeat after me, they are the exception, not the rule.
What usually happens? People graduate high school and maybe go to post-secondary then squander around for a while bitching about the crappy job market, bad economy, and cry because they can’t get their dream job. I’ve heard this sometimes also associated with the so-called “education inflation” that is-more people have higher levels of education now than they did several years ago. Thus a job that used to need a GED now needs a college certificate, the one that needed a certificate needs a degree, the one that needed a degree needs a masters and so on. So from the way I look at it, you can stick your head in the sand and get a degree while spending a lot of time, money and energy partying with your friends and studying, graduate and then cry when you realize you have $50,000 of student loans to repay and can’t get a job or you could take initiative.
After discovering what I wanted to for a career as an adult (I think I previously mentioned I originally wanted to be a juniour high drama teacher, worked with kids and went nope can’t do this for the rest of my life and then decided a new career path) I did what I needed to do to put my resume ahead of the rest. Everyone is going to have a resume saying they have post-secondary that’s a job requirement, but what have you been doing that sets you apart from everyone else? VOLUNTEERING!!!!!!! Once you have your piece of paper no one cares about your grades (unless you are going to grad school….that’s the exception). So think about what you want to do and do it. Any organization that you would want to be hired at will most likely take you as a volunteer. It might not be glamorous, you might be making coffee and doing photocopying BUT you are doing two important things. 1) Networking. If the people at this company come to see you as reliable, interested in the position, knowledgeable, personable etc. when a competition is posted you now know the people who you would be working with/the people interviewing and hiring you! If that isn’t an advantage I don’t know what is. Never ever underestimate the power of networking. Along those lines please watch yourself. Don’t post shit about other people on Facebook or talk about people behind their back unless it’s someone you really trust like your significant other or best-est best friend in the whole world. We all need to vent, and we have people that just drive us mental but people talk and your casual comment to an acquaintance 4 years ago could be the reason you don’t get a job. Been there. Done that. 2) Experience. Now when your name comes up for an interview you will be able to say “I have experience doing this job. Not a similar job, not a textbook understanding of how the job should work but an actual working understanding of this exact job. How the heck are other people supposed to compete with you when you have that?
Whether your dream career is a teacher, doctor, lawyer, police officer, garbage man, paralegal, zoo keeper, computer tech, etc. it is RARE to find a business that won’t take a volunteer if you truly want to be there and want to learn more about the position. In fact. One of the top reasons for receiving a deferral from a police service (a deferral is a length of time in which they basically say we don’t think you are ready you can apply again in ____ months/years etc.) is because the candidate doesn’t have volunteer experience. Why do you want to be a police officer–>I want to help people–>if you want to help people why haven’t you been doing just that?? Liar….differed! That easy.
Of course my advice is merely my opinion. An opinion that has been gained from research and careful observation of friends and family. But hey if you want to ignore me totally your call and if you want to just keep your fingers crossed that that piece of paper hanging on your wall is enough and that you will be the exception not the rule that’s cool but I’m going to keep sucking in every morsel of experience and knowledge I can find. Because after I have this baby and am ready to go back to work I don’t just want a job. I want a career.