Friday, January 26, 2018
The act of volunteering—helping your neighbors without recompense—offers more than just a helping hand, it benefits you and those you help in different ways. And there are many ways in which you can volunteer—whether related to your career via professional user group or something completely unrelated.
No matter your choice, one of the most surprising aspects of volunteering is how much you get back for the time and effort that you put in. Many people are truly surprised by how the rewards of volunteering change their lives. For a little time and effort, you can really make an impact on someone. In fact, people who volunteer often find themselves faced with opportunities they never thought possible before.
Having a Positive Effect
From selling products to providing services, what many people do in their “day job” provides something of value to the public. However, for many people, the simple act of showing up and providing good work is not enough; even in those instances when their work genuinely helps others. This is where volunteering comes in.
When you look at your community, there are many opportunities to help. For those in our industry, local Fuel chapters are a great place to start. Providing leadership for a special interest group like Fuel is one way to assist others while helping with your own line of work.
There are volunteering opportunities that provide real-world experiences, which ultimately benefit your employment directly or indirectly—and that pays real dividends. While your volunteering should focus on those in your community, the side benefits will have a positive effect on your career if you go about it the right way. This is one of the main missions of Fuel: having a positive effect.
A Focus on Four
Accomplishment: It’s satisfying to spend a few hours helping others. Feeling accomplished and knowing you made a difference boosts your own morale, in addition to the help you provided others. This can improve your outlook, knowing your assistance is lifting up those around you.
Leadership: Taking on leadership roles in volunteering provides the next step for your own employment. One of the difficulties many people have in advancing their career is the lack of leadership opportunities that provide the relevant experience needed to climb the ladder. By volunteering in leadership positions, you gain valuable experience leading others, directing a project or completing work, this pays off when seeking higher employment in managerial positions. Volunteering for a Fuel board position is an excellent example.
Networking: Volunteering provides you the ability to meet those who may help you in your career. Depending on the type of service you provide, it’s possible to interact with those who may provide new job opportunities or career advancement that was not possible if you hadn’t volunteered your services. This type of networking is possible when you join or work for organizations that are within your industry, even if the volunteering itself is unrelated.
Networking and information sharing, combined with assuming leadership roles, can come in handy when applying for a job in a higher position. Those with whom you network have seen you in action and understand you have the capacity to take on more responsibilities in your employment, thanks to your volunteering efforts.
Sharing: For many, volunteering provides its own rewards in helping others, but you also get to hear others’ issues, questions and concerns and provide advice when needed. This form of sharing offers substantial opportunities to create a positive impression while providing assistance to others. Plus, you get to benefit as well by having your questions, issues, or concerns addressed.
How Volunteering Benefits You
Volunteering is a collaborative act that solves problems, yet the benefits go beyond the immediate needs of the community. As you grow in your profession, you should continue to volunteer so you can learn, grow, and expand on the opportunities it provides. It’s little wonder that some of the most successful people are those who spend a few hours a week volunteering in their community or with projects that may benefit others across the world.
Whether through Fuel or another volunteer opportunity, take advantage of endeavors that make an impact on others and advance your own career. You may not realize the benefits immediately, but over time as you take on leadership roles, create networks within your industry and share knowledge with others, the power of volunteering will come out.
Gary Ramah is a member of the Fuel Board of Directors. He volunteers because of a desire to understand the Fuel community better and about how boards function.
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