Volunteering seems a waste of time and effort without gaining anything in return to some people, are you one of them?
It’s okay if you are, because in this blog we will explain to you why you should consider doing volunteer work and how it will be beneficial to you both personally and professionally, yes you read that right, there are some professional benefits to volunteering that you will get to know later on.
Hard Skills vs Soft Skills
As students we tend to focus more on hard skills. What do hard skills mean?
In a brief manner, hard skills are known as teachable abilities that are easy to quantify such as a degree or a certification, proficiency in a foreign language, computer programming, etc.
Although these skills are really important and somewhat vital for us to find a job and embark into professional life, they are not enough. Okay I know, you must be saying what more can I do other than study and have my degree or certification?
Let us introduce you to a different set of skills that are highly underrated by students: what are soft skills?
Soft skills or also known as people skills or interpersonal skills, the Collins English dictionary defines these skills as “desirable qualities for certain forms of employment that do not depend on acquired knowledge”. Soft skills include: communication, flexibility, leadership, teamwork, time management etc.
Okay, so now that you know the difference between hard skills and soft skills, how can you acquire them?
For the hard skills It’s your formal education, courses and trainings that you can take in order to get your degree or certification, but how about the soft skills?
That’s when volunteering becomes relevant, formal education gets you equipped with a precise set of skills which are more technical but it doesn’t give you the full space to develop your leadership or teamwork for example.
What will you gain from volunteering?
As a volunteer no matter which kind of work you’re doing you will get to develop these skills by practice, in addition you will gain a lot of benefits both personal a
nd professional that can be summarized in:
Grow your network
This can be considered both as a personal and professional benefit. While working as a volunteer you will get to meet a lot of people and work with them closely, this will make your contact list longer and stronger. That will benefit you personally because you will have a lot of friends to chat and meet every once in a while but also professionally as it will really enhance your chances in finding a job or an internship because you will have a big network which will give you more possibilities and exposure.
Gain experience and learn new skills
As a volunteer, you will get the chance to work in different areas and interact with a lot of people. By doing so, you will get familiar with it, your communication skills will develop, as well as time management, adaptability, negotiation, public speaking etc.
Improve your mental health
Being alone and not doing much interaction with others is not good for our mental health. Volunteering offers you the chance to do that while making a contribution to your community.
Make your life more meaningful
Volunteering is about giving back and in doing so you will get the sense that you’re part of something bigger. You will get to see your impact on others and how it’s making the world a little bit better that it was.
Gain more confidence and self-esteem
A lot of people lack support. They may have friends but they’re not really supportive of them, this may be the case with you and that’s okay. You can always find real friends that will support you and be there for you and volunteer work is a great space for you to find some, as I personally did. You will be more confident and really feel good about yourself because you will be in a supportive environment that will give you the chance to express yourself.
In the end, I want to leave you with this quote:
“Volunteers don’t get paid, not because they’re worthless, but because they’re priceless.”
– Sherry Anderson-
This post was written by AIESEC in the Netherlands. We offer international voluntary projects and professional internships with the aim of developing leadership in youth.