Did you know that employers love volunteers?
TimeBank, a UK-based volunteering charity, and Reed, a recruitment company, partnered to create a study on how employers think about volunteer work. The results were very positive for those who have chosen to donate their time:
84% of employers agreed that volunteering is a good way for people to find work.
70% of employers said that volunteers have a better chance of getting a higher salary and a promotion.
80% of employers said that they like to see volunteer work on a resume.
23% of employers said that volunteering had helped their staff learn key skills, such as time management, communication skills, and leadership skills.
The study also showed that half of the employees surveyed thought that their volunteer experience had helped them land their job, and up to 20% of employees thought that their volunteer experience helped them gain key skills in communication, leadership, and time management that were important to their jobs.
As you can see, there are a lot of ways that your community service work will help you down the road once you start work, beginning with what you choose to do.
Volunteering is a great way to explore different interests. High school students who do community service can try different kinds of work and work environments that they otherwise would likely not be exposed to at such a young age. Most paying jobs that high school students are eligible for – such as working in fast food - are not the most interesting. But volunteering can give you a chance to try things that you will be interested in as a career, such as working in social media, organizing events, or working in a specific type of institution such as a hospital.
The experiences that you gain will also look great on your resume. Future employers will likely be much more interested in hearing about a fundraiser that you ran than they will be in hearing about your burger flipping skills. Why? A lot of the personal development benefits discussed above, such as leadership skills and the ability to collaborate with a team, are things that translate well to many jobs and workplaces.
Networking is another major benefit of volunteering. As a volunteer, you will be very likely to meet like-minded individuals who share your interests. In the future, these people can be important contacts for writing letters of recommendation and for putting you in touch with the right people for scholarships and jobs.
Now that you know that community service is an extracurricular that will help you out in your personal life, as well as in high school, college, and your professional life, what are you waiting for?
How to Get Started
Do try to find the right opportunity for you. It’s important to find something that you are going to enjoy and that you are capable of doing well. Ask yourself what kind of people you like working with (kids? people your own age?), whether you work better alone or as part of a team, how much time you have to commit and how much responsibility you can take on, and what special skills you have that you can contribute.
Don’t volunteer abroad just because you think it looks better. Especially for college applications, admissions officers prefer to see a local long-term volunteer commitment than something that has only lasted a week or two during a summer break. Some volunteer abroad programs can also cause more trouble than good to local people.
Do try to find a cause that you are passionate about. If you have always had an affinity for animals, try working at a shelter or a charity working on animal rights. If you have always valued education, try tutoring or an education charity. The more you care about the cause, the more dedicated you will be to continue working for it over a long period of time.
Don’t be afraid of making a change. Ask questions when something doesn’t seem right. If you end up doing work that doesn’t seem like a good fit, is causing excessive stress, or if the experience isn’t allowing you to do the things you thought you would be working on, it’s ok to leave to find something else.
Do enjoy yourself! The more you are having fun with volunteering, the more it will be a positive experience both for you and the organization you are working with.