So today is the International Day of Charity – a day created by the United Nations to mark the passing of Mother Teresa and provide help to people all across the world, and raise awareness of their plight.
As a renowned charitable figure known the world over for her work, it’s easy to see why Mother Teresa has a day dedicated to her work – but what does that have to do with you and what does volunteering for a charity have to do with your employability, we hear you ask?
Well, apart from making you feel like a smashing human being, volunteering for a charity also brings with it a whole host of other positive attributes that will make your CV and cover letter stand out to potential employers. We’ve said it before, but Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability is gaining in significance with the world’s top companies, so there’s no better time to dive in and get philanthropic. Let’s run through a few extra reasons why you should consider volunteering for a charity:
You can work in a brand new industry
You know the drill – you want to apply for a job, but they want someone with experience. But the only way to get experience, is to get a job… It’s a frustrating catch 22. One of the great things about volunteering for a charity is that it allows you to work within a number of different industries, gaining experience and knowledge of various sectors you may struggle to gain access to via other methods, such as internships or work placement.
There is also a lot of flexibility; while you could join part of a structured volunteer programme you could also sign up to help as little or as often as your studies allow. This makes volunteering a lot less constricting than other forms of work experience. With this in mind, you have the chance to work for a number of different charities if you want; working for a few different charities during your studies is a great way to maximise your exposure to different industries and really build up your CV – and walk away with some incredible stories to mention on your cover letter. Who doesn’t love expanding their career opportunities?!
You will gain invaluable experience
Even volunteering in a charity shop for one day a week over a few months will give you invaluable experience in customer service, teamwork and also behind-the-scenes exposure to the nuts and bolts of the charity sector. While this can help form the foundation of a really strong application for future jobs, the experience you gain will undoubtedly stay with you for years to come. Without sounding too melodramatic, volunteering for a charity will shape you as a person – and that is something that hiring managers value almost as much as experience itself. In fact a 2013 survey showed that 76% of hiring managers say non-profit experience is important to them.
Those involved in the charity sector are also well aware of the benefits of volunteering when it comes to job applications. They know that many young people volunteer to help them with their future career prospects and are more than happy to help; so long as you show commitment and dedication during your tenure, there’s no need to feel anxious about using a volunteering position as a stepping stone for your future career.
That being said, there are numerous graduate jobs or graduate schemes with charities that you could look into, so also consider this when looking for opportunities.
It will expand your network AND your mind
As already stated, volunteering can make you feel like a smashing human being. It’s altruistic and does good in the world – what’s not to love? But apart from the warm fuzzy feeling it can give you, it will almost definitely help expand your mind and alter your way of thinking about the world and your approach to problems in the workplace. At the very least it can help put things in perspective and ensure you are unshakable in even the rockiest of workplace scenarios.
But one of the more tangible ways it can help with your career is by expanding your network of contacts. While the charity and corporate worlds do overlap at times, they have very different objectives. Gaining contacts in the charity sector as well as the corporate world will make for a very strong network that you can call on in the future.