Volunteering seems like a great thing to do for others, but there are benefits to the volunteer too.
Are you thinking about volunteering? Maybe trying to tip the balance in favor of that rather than scrolling through Facebook or binge watching something on Netflix?
Here are some good reasons to put down the phone, get off the couch and lend a hand. Volunteering has benefits:
You’ll feel better. Experts at the University of Exeter in England combed through more than 40 studies and found people who volunteer live longer, have lower levels of depression and higher levels of happiness, self confidence and well being. Ask someone who volunteers how they feel about the work, and you’ll seldom get one who says they regret it. Being active will help you physically, too.
There are other reasons why it might be good for your head, including these by psychologist Pamela LiVecchi -- and then there are these reasons from the Corporation for National and Community Service, which has studied why it helps your health.
You can learn for free. If you have an interest in something – anything from the law to architecture to nursing animals or the elderly – look for a place where you can volunteer and gain some inside information. A law or architectural firm might be happy to have you help out filing or answering phones, health and elderly support facilities always need volunteers and animal shelters or vets often need help. Be creative as you think about your interests and where they might apply -- and realize that nearly everyone can use free help.
It helps in school too. The Center for Research on Civic Learning and Engagement reports that volunteering improves grades “We know from research that there is a positive link between community service and academic performance.” Students who performed voluntary community service were much more likely to graduate from college than those who did not, the organization says.
Make a contact. Often volunteer opportunities give you a chance to meet people – who might help you in the future – or just be a friend. And, related to that…
It might mean a job. Volunteer positions often turn into full-time jobs, either at the place where you are working or with related organizations. The Corporation for National and Community Service also has done a detailed study showing that volunteers have a 27 percent higher chance of finding a job, noting that volunteering is often “a possible entry route into an organization”.
On the record. Volunteering looks great on a resume to show that you go above and beyond or that you are committed to something. Also, it can help fill gaps in a resume when not much else has being going on – especially if the description of the experience is worded thoughtfully.
A talking point. It’s something to boast about – and we all need positive things we can tell others.
Want to volunteer abroad? Check out our program. It gives you the chance to vounteer for 10 weeks in cool locations like Bali, Tanzania, India and more!
Written by Jim Paterson
Jim Paterson is a writer and editor who specializes in issues related to education and counseling. He has written for the Washington Post, USA Today Weekend, Parent Magazine, Baltimore Magazine, Washingtonian, Counseling Today, School Counselor Magazine, Colleges and Careers, Teen Life, Journal of College Admissions, Principal Magazine and a wide variety of other counseling and education publications. He has also been a school counselor for the past eight years, headed a counseling department and last year was named “Counselor of the Year” in Montgomery County, Md., just outside Washington, DC. Learn more about jim at: www.otherperplexity.com and www.jimpaterson-ea.com