Experience: It’s a word that can either help or haunt you. Everyone seems to be looking for experience, yet there are so many people without it. It’s a catch-22. You need someone to give you a chance (you having no experience) in the first place to gain said experience. Have you ever thought of volunteering in your community? The bottom line is that volunteer experience is experience. You’re helping those in need. There’s really no downside. Whether it’s helping those affected by disasters like the recent tsunami in Japan or helping those affected by the tornadoes that ripped through the southern U.S. last month and earlier this week in Joplin, MO, there’s a lot of good you could be doing in your community all while gaining valuable experience.
How does this relate to job advice? Well, I wrote a post last year titled “Get Involved, Get Experience” that gives you a few pointers. Check it out.
Whether you have a job or not, it’s important to volunteer your time and resources to help those in need. Giving back to your community will prove to be very rewarding. You’ll most likely come away from the experience energized, enthusiastic and with a little more humility. Helping others reminds us that there are people out there that don’t have the things we take for granted. Their biggest struggle isn’t finding a job – it could very well be the struggle to find food and shelter.
Here’s how you can help:
Just do it…now. Remember the words from an earlier post? “You won’t regret going, but you will regret NOT going.” Don’t wait for a disaster to happen. That’s when everyone jumps on the charity bandwagon. Look up the local SIFE team (they're creating a better, more sustainable world through the positive power of business), American Red Cross, Boy Scouts of America, Girl Scouts, your church or simply ask a friend or co-worker. You don’t have to go to South America to volunteer and make an impact. Your local community needs just as much (or more) help.
Bring a friend. If you can, bring a friend along. If it’s a volunteer activity that requires a subject matter expert (construction: electrician, contractor, etc.), ask if they’d mind consulting or doing some pro bono work. Everyone likes to be needed. Express that their expertise is needed to make a difference in someone’s life!
Pay it forward. You’ve already made an impact if you’ve gotten this far. Don’t let the good stop with you. Encourage others to volunteer and help their fellow man. Express to them that it doesn’t necessarily mean giving up a lot of time. One hour can make a real difference. The next time you’re just sitting around at home watching reality television, ask yourself this: “Can I use this time differently to help others?” I’m not saying that TV time is bad. We all need to relax. I’m simply suggesting that you keep the principle of helping others top of mind. You’ll love the way it makes you feel and will come away with some good experience.
How does this relate to the job search or job advice? Well, you’re interacting with people (Skills: Customer Service / Communication), working together towards a common goal (Skills: Project Management / Teamwork), and you’re taking the initiative to help empower others in need (Skill: Leadership). Volunteering can also be a great networking experience, so be prepared and bring your “A” game. Like any other networking or professional interaction, don’t forget to follow up. Building a relationship with your teammates around volunteerism may just be that common ground that will help get your foot in the door.
What are you waiting for? Get out there. Get involved. Get experience.
If you’d like to help provide assistance to those affected by the recent disaster in Joplin, MO, please click here. Links to the organizations referenced earlier can be accessed by clicking directly on the organization name above. Any assistance, whatever the amount, is appreciated. Please help if you can and remember that everyone can make a difference!