Volunteering? Why? At first, the idea of giving your time or labour for free might leave you at a loss. However, if you are looking to make friends, gain new skills or experience the buzz of giving something back to your community, volunteering could be for you. It offers endless opportunities to feel better about who you are and can provide inspiring insights into possibilities you might never have considered. This is why it can be a great way for students, those looking to make a career or lifestyle change, or simply anyone who has an extra hour or two to spare to benefit in any number of ways.
When you decide to volunteer – whether with a company, a charity or as part of a community project – you get the chance to learn something new. Within volunteering roles you are able to put into practice and develop soft skills such as teamwork, empathy and leadership in ways that you might not get to experience in other areas of your life. You might also be given the chance to encounter experiences that require you to learn practical skills. Be it by making you more employable, giving you a better idea of whether a certain career path is right for you, or simply challenging you in new and exciting ways, the experience of volunteering will increase your areas of expertise.
For many, the best part of being a volunteer is the connections that you make. Working with a range of people from different backgrounds – often with shared or similar interests – is not only a way to make new friends but also build a network that you can turn to in the future. Whether seeking support from someone who has overcome a similar challenge, learning from an expert in the field or demonstrating your abilities to a future business partner or employer, spending time in the company of others who are working towards a shared goal is a great way to develop meaningful relationships.
Volunteering often allows you to learn something new about who you truly are. Exposing yourself to fresh challenges or working within new contexts is a great way to see the ways in which you respond to different situations and, in turn, appreciate the ways you are able to respond to or overcome them. Stepping outside of your comfort zone will allow you to see just what you are capable of!
Ultimately, volunteering is all about giving something to someone else. Regardless of whether you are giving your time or expertise, choosing to give to others is a decision that makes a real, visible impact. This is why, for many, volunteering for a cause or project that you are passionate about is so important. In this way, you are able to see that, whilst you may not be benefiting personally, something you care about is gaining from your efforts. And that is always something you can feel good about!