Volunteering While Working Full Time? Why Not?

29 Jan 2016

Two years ago, I was involved in a mentorship program where the main mission is to support Indonesian students in preparing college application abroad. I was so lucky to join such opportunity. Not only that the program only accepted 20% from the total applicants, but I also got a very strong support system in prepared college application as I never had prior experience in college application abroad at all. While the program ended, they recruited new people for the new term. My mentor encouraged me to apply as a social media and content manager. His reason was, this opportunity might help me to discover whether I really want to read digital marketing in graduate school. He hoped that it will strengthen my application while I have no prior experience in digital marketing.
Shortly after went through application screening and interview, I was assumed to these position. Aside from my mentor’s advice, I really grateful that I got so much lessons from being in this role. It provides clarity about the things I love and don’t in my career. A year after in this role, here I am as a content manager with a previous (professional) experience in project management. I recalled that my current boss was asking why I want to made such a drastic career move. That’s being said, it helps me discover new opportunities as well. To those who want to do so, here are three ways you can use volunteering to learn about a specific sector, your work style, and develop the skills that will help you on your path to your dream job based on my own experience.
Find Organizations or Community That Align With Our Purpose. This organizations consist of 20 passionate people who are always ready to provide information about college application abroad for free. From these 20 people, only 5 of us who stay in Jakarta. Here, I learn a lot about the nonprofit, advocacy, education, social media marketing, and partners that contribute toward the causes that I care about. By volunteering in this sector, I learn that there is a high-impact organizations that actually for non-profit. Hence, we don’t always plunge ourself in a big pool in order to make a change and contribute to society. In other words, volunteering doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re going to work at a nonprofit for the rest of your life. In fact, it might help you discover a company with a mission you believe in that you wouldn’t have found otherwise.
Discover How We Work Best. There are some things we can only learn with experience, such as whether we prefer to work independently, part of a team, virtually, or maybe some combination of these styles. Even if we’re light on formal work experience, volunteering can provide you with the opportunity to explore how you work best with others. In my case, volunteering on a separated/virtual team give me exposure to working with other. The time-sensitivity involved in volunteering to plan an event really test my collaborative skills. Discovering how we work best will surely serve us well in our volunteer position —and in future roles to come.
Share Your Skills. I presumably volunteering in order to gain new skill and experience. But then my team leader said, don’t just volunteer to do that. She said, even volunteer your expertise can make a huge difference for the organization itself. Contributing your skills will keep them fresh naturally, and it is proven that it could develop them further. Moreover, contributing to an organization you care about, in addition to your high-stress job can help you identify whether it is your work or work environment that isn’t inspiring you. The more experiences you give yourself, the better chance you have of learning about the type of work you love doing and the types of environments you excel in. And even if you don’t find all the answers, by volunteering, you’ll help make the world a better place in the process.

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