This is the second installation of a three-part series about how to use the 12 weeks of summer to enhance your career experience and boost your chances of success.
Have you taken the time to volunteer this summer? If you’re looking to get ahead in your career, you just might want to try giving back.
In the 2016 Deloitte Impact Survey of 2,506 employers in 13 major U.S. metropolitan areas, 82 percent of respondents said they would be more likely to choose a candidate with volunteer experience on their résumé than one without it.
You already knew that volunteering benefitted your local community. Here’s how to make the most of the benefits it offers your career.
Assessing your resume gaps
Kristin Schrader, associate director of InternPLUS and Military Career Programs at UMUC, suggests starting the process by completing a self-evaluation of your skill set. “Step back and look at yourself objectively,” she advises.
Then compare your assessment to the skills required to land the job you want. Ask yourself what strengths you have, and look closely to find areas of opportunity for growth. Then create a list of skills you’re like to develop.
Schrader worked with one student with a background in web design who needed experience building websites. He decided to offer his services to local nonprofits to build up his portfolio.
“He used that experience to showcase his work to employers,” she explains.
Finding a volunteer gig to enhance your skills
The Deloitte survey reinforces this creative tactic. Its findings revealed that 92 percent of respondents agree that volunteering improves employees’ broader professional skill sets, so seize the summertime to volunteer so you can gain resume-boosting, real-work experience.
Since nonprofits typically operate with a tight budget, they’re often happy to accept help when it’s offered to them. “If you can think of a need, there’s probably an organization that will jump at the chance to have somebody working for free to fill it,” says Schrader.
Of course, you can find a volunteer project through a personal connection or your professional network, but you there are plenty of online resources to help you locate organizations in need of your services if you need a little help identifying a good match.
Here are some sites for finding traditional volunteer opportunities:
- Volunteer Match: Choose the causes about which you are passionate, select where you live and this site will list volunteer opportunities that match your interests and location.
- Idealist: This site provides job and internship opportunities and volunteer positions for individuals interested in working for nonprofit organizations. Most are located in the U.S., but there are some international and even virtual internship options, as well.
There are also microvolunteering opportunities for people who are short on time. This concept matches people with a few spare minutes of time with short-term volunteer projects, many of which can be completed virtually. This allows volunteers the opportunity to help causes about which they are passionate while gaining important experience for their resumes. Here are a few sites that advertise microvolunteering opportunities:
- Skills for Change: Complete a short questionnaire about those causes that are important to you, the skills you possess and the amount of time you have, and you will be matched with microvolunteering options.
- Microvolunteering Day: April 15 has been designated as “Microvolunteering Day.” The website for this event features over 200 microvolunteering options that take 1-30 minutes, and many can be completed virtually.
Learn more about volunteering and other internship opportunities on UMUC’s InternPLUS site.