In today’s economy—whether you’re a student, graduate, or seasoned professional—it seems that everyone has little to spare. This is even more true when it comes to sparing a little free time for volunteering. If you’re spinning your wheels looking for a job, working too many jobs, or focusing on studying, then you may be missing out. Volunteering can have more benefits than simply “doing good” and “feeling good”—it can also help lead you to a possible new career.
Here are 3 ways that volunteering can be a way to boost your mental happiness and potentially your career:
1. Uncover hidden passions – This is one of those unintended benefits, but it could really alter the course of your life. Most of us pick a major or career path with little insight into the long-term enjoyment. You may find that working with children inspires you every day, or hospital settings may become a place to stretch your critical thinking. You could also learn what you do not like, but either way, learning more about yourself will be beneficial.
2. You never know who you’ll meet – This is true about many experiences that you’ll have in your life, but volunteering will be one of the most unique. All varieties of people volunteer their time for causes that have meaning to them. You may be apathetic about picking up trash along the highway, but the CEO of a large company could just be your garbage-mate. This gives you a prime opportunity to meet people in a casual way and could challenge your old stereotypes about others.
3. Develop leadership experience – If you’ve been volunteering for the same organizations or events for several years, then start thinking about increasing your role. Maybe you have a good idea about a new process for doing something or how a fundraiser can make more in donations. Don’t be afraid to throw your hat in the ring and offer new perspectives. You’ll be helping them out by devoting more of your expertise and passion, but also gaining real experience that is resume-worthy.