The benefits of volunteering are numerous, but it’s important to choose an opportunity that aligns with your personal goals and needs. This helps ensure that you’re energized and engaged during the time that you give back, which means your efforts will have more impact.
For example, if you like being physically active, consider volunteering for an outdoor project that requires physical movement (building or maintaining a Little Free Library is a great option). If you want to make a difference without leaving your home, try reaching out to your local senior center and asking to volunteer for story time at the kids’ club.
In addition, many people find that volunteering in a field related to their career can help them gain valuable skills they can bring back into the workplace. If you have a background in finance or marketing, consider volunteering for a nonprofit that could use your skills. This type of work can also help you develop professional relationships and expand your network.
It’s common to fall into social circles that share your personal and political views, which can be a good thing. But it’s just as important to broaden your horizons by volunteering with groups and organizations that are different than you. By doing so, you’ll be exposed to new ideas and perspectives that can help you grow as a person, and it may lead you down a different career path.
One way to do this is to volunteer abroad. While this may seem intimidating at first, sites such as Worldpackers have a community of travellers that can answer questions and help you decide whether an experience is right for you. Another option is to find a project that involves travel but doesn’t require leaving your country, such as helping with food distribution or supporting local artists.
As you’re exploring your options, it’s important to find an organization that matches your skills and interests. You’ll want to treat the interview process as you would a job interview, and be sure to ask about what types of projects they need volunteers for, what kind of training they offer and how often they need help.
There are a wide variety of volunteer opportunities available, and some might seem like they’re out of reach because you don’t have the necessary qualifications. For instance, if you are an aspiring doctor or nurse, it’s unlikely that you will be able to shadow patients at a hospital. However, you can still be an important member of the team by volunteering in a non-patient-facing role, such as being a candy striper or working the front desk. This can give you hands-on healthcare experience while allowing you to explore a potential future career. You can even do this as a temporary experience, such as for an internship or while on vacation. This will help you see if the healthcare industry is really for you before making a permanent decision.