Trying to be a Stand Out Applicant? Volunteer
By Betsy Pearson
Millennials have to fight plenty of stereotypes. Whether we are labeled lazy or obsessed with our phones, public opinion seems to always be working against us. And most of these stereotypes aren’t fair.
But, according to new research by The University of Maryland’s Do Good Institute, “high school and college students are less likely to volunteer or give to charity today than they were 15 years ago.” This is one thing I refuse to let my generation be known for.
Volunteering is not a waste of time just because you don’t get paid. I have never left a volunteering job thinking I would’ve rather been scrolling on my phone or watching Netflix—in fact, I have always walked away happier with myself. In addition to this personal satisfaction, I used my volunteering from high school to get myself a job in college; later, I used my volunteering from college to get myself a job after graduation. Both personally and professionally, volunteering has paid off.
Our generation is entering the workforce in a great job market, and we are uniquely positioned to make a difference in our communities as we come of age. However, our lack of enthusiasm for volunteering can hurt us in our personal lives and professional careers. Instead, we should learn how to effectively volunteer for job experience and individual satisfaction.
Volunteering Does More than Boost Your Resume
Volunteering benefits everyone involved. People volunteer to feel joy and fulfillment while they give back to their communities and help others.
Fostering a relationship between yourself and your local animal shelter, for example, will help you feel more connected to your community (you’ll also get to play with cute animals). The Cooperation for National & Community Service advocates for charitable work as a useful networking and social tool.
Helping those in need makes a difference in their lives, and also your own. You are left feeling like you’ve just done a really good thing. According to the book “How to Live to 100,” volunteering is the secret to a happy life. For young adults this happiness can translate to a boost in “self-esteem, confidence, and feelings of self-worth.” There are also many reports that volunteering helps with depression.
Though, It Does Add to Your Qualifications
Volunteering is a resume builder. Doing charitable work provides both professional and educational experience while at the same time showcasing your virtues. When young people share their volunteer hours on a resume this makes them more competitive in a job market.
High school students can leverage volunteer experience when applying to colleges. The admissions office will not base their acceptance completely off of volunteer hours, but College Raptor reports that they can definitely help. It can help demonstrate what you are passionate about and what you care about, and it shows initiative.
In order to stand out in a crowded job market, college graduates have been known to use their volunteer experience to give them a competitive advantage. Spending time volunteering gives you a unique networking experience. A career resource center adds, “Job hunters who volunteer for causes they believe in also gain new skills and meet people—including potential employers—who could eventually find them a job.”
A Deloitte survey found that “80 percent of hiring influencers indicated that they believe active volunteers move into leadership roles more easily.” While, yes, the main reason people volunteer is to help others—but if volunteering also earns you something to show off on a college or job application, why not?
Volunteering Teaches You Professional Skills
Just because volunteering is unpaid, doesn’t mean you aren’t learning. According to a LinkedIn career expert, “42% of hiring managers say they view volunteer experience equivalent to formal work.” Once you understand what a hiring manager is looking for in a job interview, it is easy to apply a volunteer experience to hireable experience.
Volunteering is a hands on way to learn skills you need to have in any job such as time management, creativity, and effective teamwork. Whether you are looking for a job at 18-years-old or 24-years old, volunteering can mimic real career experience that is invaluable to your success once you’re in the office. Leverage your skills, and build upon them.
Researchers have found that “millennials are some of the most civic-minded and socially aware employees.” We have the potential to all become better at volunteering. And doing so could help in more ways than you realize.
Betsy Pearson is a communications and staff assistant at the Independent Women’s Forum. She is a graduate from the University of Iowa, double majoring in Public Policy and Communications. Betsy received her Writing Certificate from the renowned Iowa Writer’s Workshop, which has led her to be published with The Libertarian Republic and intern with Atlas Network, writing news updates. She spent her undergraduate career as a student activist with Young Americans for Liberty, fighting for free speech on campus. Betsy has completed the Charles Koch Institute’s Internship Program, and the Fellowship Program. She has just relocated to the East Coast and enjoys exploring D.C. with her dog.
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