Volunteer your way to a great career!

Question: What do you do if you can’t get a job because you don’t have work experience and you can’t get work experience because you don’t have a job?

Answer: As much as that sounds like a trick question, we can suggest a very simple one: VOLUNTEER!

Believe it or not, volunteering is a great way to improve your career prospects. Whether you are a recent graduate or a professional looking to switch careers, volunteering allows you to explore options and immerse yourself in environments where you can gain skills and experience that may come in handy for your dream job.  

If you are wondering how feeding the homeless, watching over kids at play, wheeling elderly around, picking up litter, or building affordable housing with bare hands can possibly help you get the job that you want, think outside the box!

Volunteering in pretty much any capacity can build employability skills which are valuable no matter what field you are interested in pursuing.  It demonstrates your ability to commit to a job, follow through on a project from start to finish, and meet deadlines. It may also demonstrate your ability to work in a team or take the lead on a project. It can even enhance communication skills, interpersonal skills, organizational skills, and so on, depending on the activity you are involved in. All of the above are important qualities that employers look for in potential employees.

What about actual, work-related skills, you ask? You may want to get specific and zero in on your special abilities by gearing your volunteer work towards the line of work you are interested in. Many organizations require expertise in a particular area, like Finance, Marketing, HR, or IT, but are unable to afford a professional’s services.  Get involved in volunteer opportunities that are relevant to your career goals. For instance, if you are a recent IT graduate, you may be able to lend a hand by setting up networks and developing websites for a small, start-up charity. If you want to be a nurse, give registered nurses a hand at a long-term care facility and learn a thing or two from them. If you are interested in doing public relations work, why not help the homeless shelter promote their food drive to the media? Don’t be afraid to get creative and put yourself out there and show the world what you are capable of!

Non-profit organizations are more than willing to provide a willing volunteer with experience. You may even walk away from a volunteer experience with a glowing reference in hand!

Most employers nowadays are also thinking outside the box.  Beyond work-related skills, they look at having volunteer experience as a positive quality which gives a person an upper hand among other applicants vying for the same role. Think about including your volunteer work in your resume to showcase your skills and experience. If you are coming up with a blank, it’s time to get out there and volunteering!

Where can you find volunteering opportunities?  Check out your local volunteer centre. If you’re based in Calgary, Volunteer Calgary is the one-stop shop for volunteer opportunities in the city. We have hundreds of positions in every imaginable area. Our website is updated daily with postings from various non-profit organizations.  Visit the Volunteer Calgary website at www.volunteercalgary.ab.ca to begin your search for a meaningful volunteer opportunity.

Start volunteering your way toward a successful career and brighter future for yourself AND the community!


About Propellus

Propellus is a non-profit organization that has been empowering organizations since 1955. Through a dynamic range of consulting, training and member services, it helps organizations envision and realize new paths, practices and possibilities. Propellus guides, mentors and educates clients, arming them with tools and resources to help boost organizational effectiveness. Propellus strengthens organizations; in doing so, it leads the way toward building thriving communities.
This entry was posted in Employee Volunteering, For Volunteers and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Volunteer your way to a great career!

  1. Now this post would make a great podcast. Maybe some short interview with people how have started their careers volunteering.

  2. Roopa Khanna says:

    I can certainly attest to the value of volunteering as a means of furthering your career. I began as a volunteer of Volunteer Calgary and now I’m a proud employee! I had known for some time that I wanted to make the move to the nonprofit sector and volunteered my services as a means of learning more about it. Months later, I was offered a full-time position and couldn’t be happier!

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