What's the image that comes to mind when you think of volunteering? Digging wells in a foreign country? Feeding starving children? Assisting the elderly at a local hospital? Certainly these are some of the most commonly thought of reasons for volunteering. However, landing a sweet volunteer position within your career field can help greatly further your job search. Here are a few of the benefits that volunteer positions grant.
1. Enhanced Job Skills
Internships are great career jumpstarts as they give you real-world hands-on experience in your field of choice. Unfortunately, they can be difficult to come by at times, and are generally regulated to college students. If you are unable to score an internship (be it due to a lack of available slots, or being out of school), volunteering makes a suitable substitute, and can enable you to gain valuable skills that you can later apply to your future job of choice.
2. A Networking Circle
A volunteer position at a company will allow you to meet actual, employed workers in your field that may be able to offer sound advice, needed instruction, or connections to someone that could assist in moving you toward a career goal.
3. Facilitates Good References
As an offshoot of networking and building connections, a volunteer position will allow you to amass a number of colleagues willing to provide good references (providing that you've done an ace job with your duties) when the time comes to chasing a paying gig.
4. Fills Unemployment Gaps
If you've lost your job as a result of this downed economy, volunteering at a company during your downtime can fill in any gaping employment gaps on your resume and prevent the soul-searing "What did you do in that time?" question. It also helps you keep your job and people skills sharp, so you'll still be on point when you go in for your next job interview.