Volunteering has always been a big part of my life. My parents taught me from a young age the value of giving back to your community. From large-scale sporting events to smaller, rural community causes, I spend a lot of my free time working with not-for-profits and charities that are close to my heart.
As a young professional, I’ve come to understand that volunteering provides opportunities to grow as an employee and a person. Here’s why I think young professionals should volunteer:
Practice and gain new experiences
You’re gaining a ton of valuable new skills and experiences in your new role — but these skills are probably relatively general and not overly focused.
Volunteering allows you to explore areas of interest while you figure out what you’re most passionate about. It gives you exposure to new issues and opportunities you may not be exposed to in your professional life. It’s also a great way to build both your portfolio and your confidence.
Play in a sandbox
Like many businesses, not-for-profits are always looking for new ways to engage with key audiences. Volunteer positions often give you an opportunity to take risks that you might not otherwise have the chance to take in your work environment.
Testing new social channels, playing with new features, and trying creative tactics are ways to stay up-to-date on changing trends. You can share your learnings with colleagues and clients to demonstrate your value.
In the words of Ms. Frizzle: “Take chances, make mistakes, get messy!”
Build your network
Networking is important at any stage of your career, but by being a part of community events and organizations, you open yourself to new groups of people, business community members, and potential clients or employers.
Demonstrating your commitment to personal and professional growth increases the likelihood of you standing out. The people you meet in volunteer settings can offer you connections, introductions, and professional advice. They can also lead you to new career opportunities and life-long friendships.
Find work/life balance
Work can be stressful. It’s really easy to get caught up in the demands of day-to-day work – there’s pressure to keep up with ever-evolving technology and multi-tasking has now become a standard part of work life.
Volunteering allows you to shift focus from the day-to-day grind. It lets you exhale, regroup, and build skills and experience relevant to work, without it feeling like work. And it lets you practice, experiment and engage with new people in a lower-stress, lower-risk environment.
Be a part of something bigger
Volunteering lets you take the skills you’re developing in the workforce and pass them on to an organization or cause that matters to you – a cause that might otherwise not have access to the resources you can provide. It gives you the chance to be a part of something bigger.
And your participation also helps the organization grow. When you combine your skills with the skills and experience of other volunteers, it adds considerable depth and creates a well-rounded team that will help the organization reach new levels of success.
Most importantly, volunteering can be incredibly fulfilling. It lets you pay it forward and contribute to the larger community.
Right now, there are 86,376 registered charities across Canada. There are countless other registered not-for-profits and organizations waiting for you. Find a cause that excites you and get started.
NATIONAL is firmly committed to giving back to the communities in which we do business. In 2015 alone, we devoted more than 8,500 hours to nearly 130 non-profit organizations in a wide range of fields, from healthcare, culture and humanitarian aid to promoting democracy and community development. To find out more, read out 2015 Corporate Responsibility Report.