Friday, April 12, 2013

The Importance of Volunteering

For many years now, very qualified candidates have found that they do not always get replies from those to whom they send resumes. A friend who has started looking for work after many years is finding this to be true. She once replied to a job opening notice, got an enthusiastic "We want to interview you" email reply and then heard nothing from that organization again, although she left telephone messages.
In the meantime, are you using your talents and skills? Find an organization that can use your abilities in your spare time, and get some real work experience.
 When I was a recent college graduate and unable to get a job in public relations, I volunteered for a P.R. committee in a non-profit. The others on the committee had more experience than I did, but I had time, since my paying job left my evenings and weekends free. I learned quite a bit from the others on this committee, and they helped me learn how to do public relations and use my writing skills.
My volunteer work showed others what I could do. While working on the committee as a volunteer I met many people affiliated with the organization who later helped me find work as a writer-for-hire.  In time I had free-lance paying customers who had met me through my volunteer committee work, and then a full-time paid position in public relations.
I think that one of the reasons volunteering has always been so good to me is that I have treated it like a real job. When I have been a volunteer I showed up when I said I would, and did what I said I would do. In the organizations where I volunteered my work was appreciated and my talents valued. I got experience in doing things and being responsible for making things happen to a greater extent than most employees with little experience would. I was able to be useful, helpful, capable and making a contribution to a better world at a time when the only job I could get paid for was as an office worker.
In time, my time working as a volunteer meant that I had skills and experience which I used in the world of paid work, and I also made many friends who have meant a great deal to me in the years since we worked together as volunteers. I would happily recommend volunteering to help to support a cause you believe in as a way to spend your non-paid time to make the world a better place for yourself as well as those the organization serves.
This approach has not only worked for me, it has also worked for many others in the years since I got started who have asked me for advice about finding their first job in their chosen field.

Liz Scott, Hofstra Alumni, M.B.A. ’93 

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