Advancing Your Career Through Volunteerism

December 7th, 2012
Tabitha Parrish volunteers some thoughts on giving back.

There are many reasons for young professionals to volunteer in the community, but an often-overlooked benefit is the positive impact it can have on your career. We asked Tabitha Parrish, development officer for Valley of the Sun United Way, for some ways to get ahead when you give back. 

Rolling up your sleeves and volunteering can be a selfless pursuit. But if you’re smart, you can also get a lot out of your experience — and even advance your career. Here are a few tips for applying your community involvement to your career.

  1. Build your skills. When you volunteer, you’re donating your skills to an organization, but you can also gain skills. For example, most volunteer projects are very team-oriented, giving you a chance to enhance your relationship-building and teamwork skills. Plus, depending on the type of project, you can pick up other skills like event planning or project management.
  2. Enhance your creativity. Because nonprofits have limited resources, you’ll most likely have to think outside the box to accomplish certain tasks. And what employer wouldn’t value a creative thinker on their team?
  3. Open your mind. No matter how involved you are in the community, I believe that with every single opportunity that’s out there, you stand to gain something new. Every time I participate in a project, I know I’m going to experience something that touches me or inspires me in a different way. This attitude carries over into your day job, too.
  4. Be genuine. Corporate social responsibility is very popular right now, and volunteerism is a top priority for a lot of companies. So, yes, employers like to see that you’re involved in the community in some way. But it’s not about checking a box. Employers want your commitment to be authentic. They want to see your personal connection and passion for the organization you volunteer with. 
  5. Find your passion. To ensure that you’re giving your best, find a cause or an organization that you really care about. Reflect on your own life. Be very introspective and look at the things that have inspired you. Are you passionate about animals? Or children? Do you care about education or the environment? Look at the things that mean something to you. Then, consider your own skills and what you can bring to an organization.
  6. Admire your work. When you serve, you benefit personally and professionally — and you get to take pride in a community that you helped build. Remember: What we do now will have an impact on our community a year from now, 10 years from now, even 100 years from now.

Get Connected
Valley of the Sun United Way 

This story, written by Tabitha Parrish, is part of the Chamber's monthly VYP email newsletter. To sign up for any or all of the Chamber's regular email communications, click here.

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