The Hidden Values of Volunteering

February 4, 2015
Year On TeamGap Years

Original post by Drew Evans

Have you ever volunteered? If so, chances are you did it to help your local community or lend a hand in some way. You were thinking about others – and that’s a good thing. But there’s more to volunteering than being selfless. Volunteering often helps you in more ways than the people or project you support.

Aside from helping with college applications and resumes, volunteering can also have a life-changing effect on your personal life. Here are some of the most important things volunteering can do for you:

Learn New Skills

One fantastic thing that volunteering can offer you is a new understanding of your own abilities. Whether you’re planning a huge event or making fliers for a small gathering, every task can help you understand how to accomplish something new. As UN Volunteers explains, “volunteering is the perfect vehicle to discover something you are really good at and develop a new skill.” You can learn big skills like how to plan and budget or how to supervise and manage. Alternatively, you can take time to enhance skills you already have by spending more time actively using them.

Test for Your Future

An added side effect of volunteering is that it gives you an opportunity to try out possible careers, majors, and opportunities. Interested in education? Volunteer at a local school or daycare to gain experience with kids of all ages. Love public policy and local politics? Volunteer during campaigns or work with local officials to improve amenities nearby. Though you may not have any idea what you want to pursue now, volunteering can help you solidify your interests.

Meet New People

Though it might not sound unique to volunteering, meeting new people can have a different face through volunteering than anywhere else. Many diverse people volunteer throughout every community, so having the opportunity to meet and speak with them can give you new “information and ways of looking at the world that can broaden your horizons." It’s also not a terrible way to network – you’ll learn that some of the most frequent volunteers are former big players in the business world. Volunteering is their way of giving back.

Accomplish Something Important

Sometimes, giving back can give you a great sense of fulfillment. Though your skills and help might improve your community, you can improve your own self-esteem and confidence by accomplishing something you never thought you could.

Remember – volunteering is more than just a way to boost your experience for an application. The things you can learn and give back will last you a long time and will act as a foundation to build upon for the rest of your life.

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