Volunteering in a position related to your career path is a great way to demonstrate your skills, knowledge, and expertise for prospective employers. It allows you to build a presence in your industry, network, and connect with possible future references for your next job application. Whether you’re looking to fill the gap between graduation and the start of your career or preparing for that impending job search, this guide can help you find relevant opportunities to give back to your community while also learning and boosting your resume.
A few key tips
Despite the huge variety of volunteer opportunities, there are some important things to consider if you want them to benefit your resume and job search. Before you get into the nitty-gritty of finding the option that’s right for you, make sure you follow these important pointers.
How to find opportunities
There are many different ways to volunteer. If you’re looking for some adventure, consider international work. Several organizations offer ways for people across a wide range of professions to get involved in other countries.
Areas of focus: agriculture, community economic development, environment, health, youth, education
Areas of focus: people, animals, ecology
Another great source for industry-related volunteer opportunities is professional associations. You’re more likely to find one-time events through these groups, though local or state chapters might have suggestions of some more long-term options. If you aren’t sure which association is right for you, try asking a career counselor or a teacher in your department for some suggestions. You might also use this professional association finder tool, but keep in mind that talking to someone in the field will likely give you a much better idea of what each group has to offer.
There are other websites where you can search for relevant volunteer roles and limit your results by location, though don’t be surprised if some of your search results require a short application process.
Areas of focus: animals, board development, computers, crisis support, education/literacy, environment, health/medicine, justice/legal, media/broadcasting, sports/recreation\
Areas of focus: veterans/military families, disaster preparedness, economic opportunity, youth/education, civil/human rights, social entrepreneurship
Areas of focus: animals, arts/recreation, business (accounting, HR, sales, marketing, technology), therapy, legal service, construction, disaster/health services, education/child support, environment, logistics
Areas of focus: animals, children/youth, computers/technology, environment, homeless/housing, immigrants/refugees, media/broadcasting, seniors, veterans/military families, people with disabilities, health/wellness, hunger, legal work, women’s issues
If you still can’t find something that excites you, consider leading your own project or event. Jumpstarting and managing an unpaid initiative demonstrates motivation, creative thinking, leadership, and many other skills employers want to see in a job applicant. Regardless of your end results, you’ll be making an impact doing something you love while building a powerful background of experience at the same time.