Volunteering is traditionally seen as something people do to help those who are less fortunate. Opportunities for volunteers exist in just about every social service organization and many for-profit companies also offer unpaid internships and apprenticeships. Working for free is not just for the altruistic. The experience you can gain from volunteering is only limited by the amount of effort you invest in yourself.
When you volunteer for a company, you are essentially working for free. Do not take your volunteer position for granted. The company that gives you a volunteer position does so because they need a service that you can provide. Volunteers are used for everything from feeding the homeless to designing websites. Because you won’t get cash payment for your services, it is important that you gain valuable experience from your work.
The company that you work for will likely try to match your skills with their needs. If you are volunteering because you need a legitimate work history for your resume, it is perfectly fine to do something you are already skilled at. However, if you seek volunteer work to gain knowledge and experience, you will want to try something new.
Organizations that use volunteers sometimes offer free training. The organization and the volunteers benefit from this training. By training the volunteer workforce, the organization benefits because its volunteers know exactly what to do. Volunteers benefit from the training by learning skills that can be carried over to a paid position.
Volunteers don’t get paid, not because they’re worthless, but because they’re priceless.
If you are unsure whether or not you want to pursue a particular career, volunteering in that industry can give you valuable information. By simply donating some of your free time to work in the field, you can either find out that it is not for you or gain valuable contacts in the industry. These contacts can serve as mentors or references in future job searches.
Volunteer work is an important addition to any resume. Even if you have paid work experience, volunteer work should not be downgraded on your resume. By showing a future employer that you will be willing to donate your time and expertise, you prove that you have the initiative they are looking for in an employee.