It’s your last year of college and even though you may be taking comfort in the upcoming holidays, graduation still lurks in the back of your mind. Because sooner rather than later, the New Year will roll around, Georgia’s dry heat will return and spring will make college seniors sweat and squirm when faced with the prospect of job hunting. Of course, all anyone wants is a decent job that will pay off their existence. But for those college grads struggling to land a steady paycheck, volunteer work can be the first step to achieving the blissful dream of the perfect career you’ll cherish forever. Even though volunteer work is unpaid, studies have shown that employers value job applicants with more volunteer experience on their resume than minimum wage work. For those of you still not convinced, take a look at the following ways volunteer work is guaranteed to help you on your path to a rewarding career.
Fill in Your Work History Gaps
Let’s be real, unless you’re studying to become a medical professional, engineer or another “safe” profession, the odds of finding a job in your field after graduation are slim. Instead of picking up a part-time gig at Five Guys or worse, lounging around your parent’s basement, try looking into getting a volunteer work position that benefits a cause you care about. You won’t be bored, you’ll be doing something productive with your time and the next time you apply for a job, the employer will be impressed with your degree and advocacy experience.
Networking and Publicity
With that being said, volunteer work is underestimated gold on a resume. It shows you’re a team player, care about your community and practice necessary job skills in a professional environment. Volunteer work can also lead to internships for non-profits that can lead to networking with higher-up contacts and job openings. Not to mention if you get loud on social media about your volunteer work, people will notice you’re online presence and it will speak very highly of your character during online company background checks (which do really happen).
Explore Different Job Fields
Still not sure what to do with your life after graduation? Become a volunteer renaissance man (or woman) by getting involved with causes you care about that involve skills you need for your dream job. You could volunteer at hospitals and nursing homes, schools and libraries, aquatic centers and sports camps, arts and humanities places – the possibilities are endless. The important thing to is get out and try and you’ll have help from a team of dedicated volunteers to help you find your way.
Practice Job Skills
All of those skills you see people being endorsed for on LinkedIn can be learned through volunteer work: creative problem solving, computer skills, team management, working on a schedule etc. The more involved you get with a particular volunteer organization, the more specific your responsibilities will become and you’ll have firsthand experience in a community environment that will pay off in a career.
Learn How to Handle Human Interaction
Every work environment runs into the same types of problems: communication, teamwork and work ethic. You’ll soon discover that there are strong personalities and weak personalities to contend with when trying to get something done. Volunteer work provides an excellent playground for practicing dealing with these types of obnoxious interactions. Similar to the joys of customer service, volunteer work will help you learn to anticipate people’s needs and solve the problem in the most efficient way.