You’ve heard it before: Volunteer work is good for boosting your résumé. Through volunteering, you can gain valuable skills that can help you along your professional path. It can be a strategic move toward a future career or educational opportunity. But, when it comes to professional experience, not all volunteer opportunities are created equal.
How can you ensure your volunteering adds to your professional development?
Choose service in something you’re curious or passionate about.
You may not know of specific careers in that field yet, but you can gain connections from the organization you serve, as well as your fellow volunteers. Choose to volunteer in an area that you would like to gain particular skills in. Volunteering can act as free education in this regard.
Think about what skills you are learning.
You can develop useful professional skills through nearly any volunteering opportunity. You might practice networking, customer service skills, teamwork, problem-solving, critical-thinking, etc. The list of potential skills is nearly endless. By reflecting on your service to recognize these skills, you increase the personal and practical value of your service. You can properly advocate for your qualifications from service in job interviews and networking, and you empower yourself to seek service that is beneficial to you.
If you or someone you know is interested in tailoring community service in a way that develops professional skills, you can check out ServiceWorks St. Louis. This series of professional development workshops is centered around community service to make sure you get the most out of your volunteering. Serve to benefit your community and to benefit yourself. Add it to your résumé, and understand why it belongs there.
Alyssa Franklin is an AmeriCorps VISTA at the United Way of Greater St. Louis. She began her year of service in July of 2015, shortly after graduating from Missouri State University with a BS in Psychology. Her passion is thinking, which she will employ to solve society’s problems. Starting with her own community, ServiceWorks St. Louis is her first step in changing the world.