It’s not something that most of us even consider, mostly because we assume that it does nothing for us in return. However, volunteering offers great benefits not just to the people you’re helping, but also to society and for yourself as well. You gain more experience, you come into contact and interact with a wide variety of people, and you learn much more about life in a practical and realistic setting. Volunteering could also become a step up the professional ladder if you know how to choose the right programs. And to do this, you must:
- Know yourself: Not every program is right for every volunteer; in fact, you can contribute positively to any program only if you’re whole-heartedly interested in its cause and mission. For example, you may volunteer to educate people about disease and ill health, but if you’re squeamish and faint at the sight of blood, you would fare badly in a camp that collects blood samples and offers free testing. So know what you’re interested in and what you’re passionate about, and look for volunteer programs that will allow you to give vent to and develop these interests. This way, you’re doing yourself and the community you’re serving, a great service.
- Choose organizations that make a difference: Some organizations run volunteer programs just for the publicity – they don’t really care about making a difference. Others however are more philanthropic and focus on giving to the community even as they garner free publicity for themselves. It’s the latter kind you must choose if you want to make a difference, one that means something to you and which will help you further your professional ambitions as well.
- Training programs help: Even volunteer work requires some kind of skill, so if you’re keen on joining the program but lacking in the necessary skills, choose programs that offer training sessions before they kick off. This way, you learn something new and also perform more efficiently when on the job.
- Opt for skilled volunteering tasks: There are levels of volunteers in each program, and the more experience you have as a volunteer in similar situations, the higher you can climb in future programs. Opt for supervisory or management tasks because they provide more of a challenge and keep volunteering interesting and educational.
- Practical considerations matter too: And last, but certainly not the least, choose programs that are at locations ideal for you and of durations that don’t cut too much into your regular schedule. Also check the prerequisites required before you sign up – some programs may take up too much of your time or require too much effort on your part just to get to the designated location every day.