Nnenna Ofoegbu holds a BA Hons degree in Public Relations and Communications and has recently started her own Events business.
She loves writing self-help themed articles and is a mentor. Nnenna is the founder of Yes You Can! A platform that inspires others to live a more focused, goal-driven life.
Nnenna is a huge advocate for giving up personal time for free in exchange for gaining valuable experience, knowledge and career advancement.
Through volunteering and interning, she gained some connections, opened doors and opportunities she would never have been offered otherwise had she not volunteered her time to work for free.
And that is why she thinks one should consider volunteering if they have never done it before. Whether you’re already employed in your dream job or you’re a fresh graduate looking for your first dream role.
It could be through a professional internship at a global organization or by volunteering in your spare time with an NGO.
There are many advantages to volunteering like being offered a job within the organization. Bringing your expertise in one area or learning a new skill in another area you’re interested in can benefit both parties.
You’ll also get to meet new people and expand your professional network.
However, opting to volunteer may not be a financially viable move for everyone. Although a lot of organizations can allow you to work remotely if you are expected to work from the office than expenses like travel and feeding may be left up to you to cover.
This can be off-putting especially if your finances are restricted, but there are ways around it. You could suggest agreeing to volunteer for a short period like two weeks for example, or on a part-time basis like one day a month. Do what works best for you. This will help you to limit your costs.
She was fortunate as the charity offered to reimburse her for her travel and feeding expenses, and she worked on a part-time basis of two days a week.
She thought it was going to be a piece of cake – oh how wrong she was! It was hard work and challenging. But she had a great mentor who helped her work on and improve her skill set.
It was all worth it in the end when she got to walk a well-known British celebrity down the red carpet at the charity’s annual awards ceremony and go to St James’ Palace for a private garden party.
There are some perks! So, why should you consider volunteering?
Here are Nnenna’s 5 reasons why you should volounteer.
1. Gain or improve an existing skillset
Taking up a corporate internship or volunteering with a social enterprise will give you the opportunity to level up your skillset.
Whether it’s your I.T proficiency or presentation skills, use volunteering as a valid way to learn something new or improve an existing skill.
Working with other skilled colleagues will also enhance your skills and improve your interpersonal abilities.
Top Tip: Keep a list of any new skills you have gained both soft and hard as it will increase your market value.
By keeping a journal during your time volunteering you will be able to self-reflect on your personal and professional development.
Make sure you update your CV, as additional skills add value to it.
2. Shows ambition
Generally speaking, ambitious minded people are more likely to get ahead in the workplace. Whereas the passive and unassertive person tends to be overlooked for promotion.
Volunteering helps you to create the right impression within the organization. It shows that not only are you willing to give up your time for free but that you’re career-minded and take your professional development seriously.
It shows senior management that you’re focused, responsible and enthusiastic member of the team. It shows assertiveness.
Now all you must do is bring your A-game and add value to the organization by positively contributing to the team.
Top Tip: Set some goals or list the things that you would like to have mastered or achieved during your time with the organization.
Discuss them with your supervisor and come to an agreement on what support you will need to achieve your goals.
3. Improves your network
Volunteering can be a useful way of expanding your professional network. Get involved and try to participate with any department or team activities, social gatherings, and work meetings.
This is also a good time to look for a career mentor if you don’t have one already. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a senior manager.
It could be your co-worker or a colleague from a different team or department.
Top Tip: Add your co-workers and managers (if appropriate) on LinkedIn and ask them to endorse you.
4. Boosts your confidence
Not only will volunteering boost your skills, but your self-confidence will also benefit. It takes guts and tenacity to get out there and join a new organization as a volunteer.
It’s a positive achievement and something to feel proud of. It will make you feel good about yourself and confident in your capabilities.
Top Tip: Don’t feel undervalued because you’re not being paid a salary, rather see it as a chance to be a fly on the wall.
You’ll get to see behind the scenes which could inspire you to suggest some ideas like for a charity fundraiser or a corporate social responsibility activity for example.
5. Brings you closer to your dream job
Whether it’s your first role you’re chasing or you want to pivot into a new career sector through volunteering, it’s the sum total of all your newly acquired skills and connections that will bring you closer to where you ultimately want to go career or even business-wise (even if they don’t offer you a job at the end of it).
If you are looking for employment, then volunteering with the right organization certainly helps.
Top Tip: Add your voluntary work to your LinkedIn profile with any relevant links to the projects or work you’ve been involved in.
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