Whether you're volunteering for a cause or a job, volunteering has many benefits for professionals.

Cambridge Dictionary defines volunteering as offering “to do something that you do not have to do, often without having been asked to do it and without expecting payment”. Often, volunteering is associated with causes’ people are passionate about but it goes beyond that. 

Bringing it closer to the context of work, volunteering means working for an organization without being paid. Internship, on the other hand, means to learn a trade or profession for a specific period which is sometimes paid or unpaid. 

Either volunteering or interning, the focus is to invest your time in practical learning. Evidence shows that volunteering/interning pushes you a step further and places you ahead of the competition. According to research by Linkedin, 1 in 5 Hiring Managers said they have hired candidates because of their volunteer experience.

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 So should you work for free if you can? I say, Yes! And here are 10 reasons why; 

  1. You meet people, you build new professional connections, you grow your social capital.
  2. You gain fresh perspectives and learn more about business and trends. You stay ahead. 
  3. You learn new skills and you boost your professional profile. 
  4. You get to test run your passion, career or profession and make evidence-based career decisions.
  5. You gain free hands-on experience, you build competence which prepares you for better opportunities. Employers are interested in what you have done I.e. your track record.
  6. Volunteering prepares you to earn big. When you learn, you improve your earning potential and your chances of getting hired fulltime.
  7. You build your self-esteem. You gain more confidence and clarity about your career, specific industries or the workplace in general.
  8. You serve humanity. You contribute to championing something you love. You make real impact.
  9. You overcome feelings of sadness and depression that come with being unemployed or not having a fulfilling career.
  10. You discover a whole new you. New insights to talents and gifts you didn't even know you had.

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Before taking up volunteer opportunities, consider your career journey and personal circumstances. Think through the conditions, timing, location, resources required and benefits. Some people often think volunteering is a mean attempt at cheap labour. There are genuine opportunities that truly help people learn and grow. I say volunteering is worth it, I have volunteered for work, causes and projects that helped shape my career. If volunteering works for you, by all means, go for it. You have more to gain and nothing much to lose. 

When you volunteer, be proud you did. Add your volunteer experience to your professional profile. Add them to your resume and your LinkedIn profile. When adding on LinkedIn, add them under the Experience section or the Volunteering section. If you are adding under the Experience section, be sure to indicate they were volunteering opportunities. 

Are you struggling to find volunteer or internship opportunities? Keep your eyes on my upcoming articles and live streaming sessions where I will be teaching you how to find utilize those opportunities. 

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About the Author

Ifeadi Anigbogu is a senior professional in People Management, Management Consulting and Human Resources Consulting. She is an international speaker, a writer, a content creator, a career and business success Coach. 

You can reach her on LinkedIn here.

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