Five Ways Volunteering Impacts Your Career

EDITOR’S NOTE:  We officially changed our name from University of Maryland University College (UMUC) to University of Maryland Global Campus (UMGC) on July 1, 2019. News stories posted on the Career Connection blog are now using the new UMGC name. However, because the transition to the university’s new name will take several months to complete, you may still see the UMUC name, logo and look on our website and other materials through early 2020. 

Volunteering allows you to give back to your community and provides personal and professional growth. Whether you are serving on a community association board, raising money for scholarships, or organizing an event, these are just some of the types of opportunities you could participate in to put your current skills to work and to develop new ones. However, before deciding to volunteer, consider the following:

  1. Why do you want to volunteer?
  2. How will volunteering for this organization help you reach your goal?

Everyone has a different reason for why they volunteer. Some do it because they want to help others, and volunteering is a great way to give back to their community. Others want to transition into a career field that is more in line with their values and interests and have found that volunteering is the best way to achieve that goal. No matter your reason, you’ll find that volunteer work has an important impact on your career, below are a few examples:

  1. Learn new skills
    Volunteer work allows you to learn new skills and use the ones you already have. Maybe you like to write, plan events, or fundraise. No matter your skills or interests, there are non-profit organizations worldwide in need of people with initiative, drive, and passion to lead these efforts. You will gain new competencies as well as soft and hard skills from your volunteer work.
  2. Gain Experience
    If you need work experience that is timely and relevant, consider volunteering for jobs in your chosen career field. This will help you gain necessary experience on a schedule that works for you.
  3. Expand Your Network
    Your network is vital because they can provide you with future job leads and support you as your career progresses. Make a list of all the people you are currently working with and try to stay in contact with them after you have finished volunteering.
  4. Audition a New Role
    You may not be 100% sure that your new career path is right one for you, but by volunteering you can try out the industry or occupation before making a full commitment.
  5. Improve Job Prospects
    Volunteering is a great way to fill a gap on your resume when you have little to no job experience. Through volunteering you may be able to demonstrate to a potential employer you made a serious effort to improve your employability.

When making plans to further your career, don’t rule out volunteering to gain necessary experience on your own schedule. As always, UMGC Career Services is available to help you plan and achieve career success. Visit CareerQuest today to set up an appointment with a UMGC Career Advising Specialist.

Rhoda Smackum is a career advising specialist for Career Services and Alumni Relations at University of Maryland Global Campus. She has approximately 28,000 hours of work experience in the field of career development. Ms. Smackum enjoys working collaboratively, in partnership with students and alumni to identify career issues, match values with career choices and obtain meaningful work. She holds a Master of Arts degree from Bowie State University and a Bachelor of General Studies degree from the University of Maryland College Park. She is a Certified Master of Career Services (CMCS) and an Associate Certified Career Coach.