Whether it was due to jobs lost in the pandemic or continuing efforts to close the tech gender disparity, many women are looking for ways to find their next opportunity, promotion, or project.
Among the pieces of advice given to women in these scenarios, especially in tech, “keep learning” and “network” are offered. Both good pieces of advice, but often accompanied by either a stringent checklist of tasks or a vague description of activities that may or may not fit into that particular woman’s available time, budget, or interests. Women often follow these plans while still feeling there has to be an easier way that combines many of the actions that help them in their search.
Volunteering allows us to do all of those things at once. Volunteering can provide great opportunities to develop and demonstrate new skills and grow your professional network alongside like-minded people in a feel-good environment. Plus, there are so many opportunities to choose from, from one-off events to ongoing activities at local organizations, and now even virtual opportunities.
When it comes to finding a job, we so often hear “it’s who you know,” and research has long shown that anywhere from half to upwards of 80% of jobs are filled through who you know in your network. Volunteering allows you to expand your network while still making connections with others that have interests and passions aligned with your own.
Learn New Skills
No matter what type of organization you choose to volunteer for, there are opportunities to learn a new skill. While you may start out in a volunteer position doing something you are familiar with, paying attention to the needs of the organization opens chances for you to take on new tasks and challenges and gain new skills. Volunteering as a dog-walker at your local animal shelter, but finding they need help with their social media can lead to learning digital marketing skills. Being a teaching assistant for an organization that teaches tech to kids allows you to learn the technology alongside the students. Following your heart-led passions to a volunteer opportunity can put you in the position to gain new knowledge as well.
Build Your Resume
Volunteerism is a resume builder. Employers like seeing that potential employees are a part of their local and industry communities. It shows an additional level of commitment and professionalism that makes you stand out as a candidate. Highlight your volunteerism and the skills you learned from it, especially during gaps in employment.
The Feel-Good Factor
No discussion of volunteerism, even one in the serious context of using it to help you grow your career, is complete without mentioning the feeling of satisfaction it brings. Knowing that you are giving of your time and energy to help others is a positive pat on the back at any time, but especially after what has been a year of losses and uncertainties.
Over 30% of women volunteer. They have already discovered that giving their time and expertise brings them the satisfaction of knowing that they have contributed to their communities and will receive tangible benefits that they can carry over into their professional lives. Take the steps now to find the volunteer opportunity that will fill your emotional cup and lift you to the next step on your professional journey.