Team Effort or Individual Achievement?
By Stephanie Coolen
Before you begin the rewarding experience of volunteering, you should know whether it is something you want to do alone or as part of a group. Volunteering is a perfect way to explore new fields and can lead you to a career path you've never explored or help you discover a skill or interest you were unaware of.
If you are volunteering to gain work experience, you should consider volunteering on your own. Volunteering offers incredible networking opportunities. It allows you to meet new people and develop professional relationships. You might hear about job openings, gather inside employment information and develop great references for your resume. There will be plenty of competition once you get in the workplace and you want your volunteer connections to remember you, not somebody you were with. Volunteering on your own can give you the opportunity to develop your skills and give you confidence for when the competition really kicks in.
Sometimes we simply need a break in our routine and volunteering around a personal interest or hobby can be fun. If you and some of your friends share an interest or hobby, this is the perfect time to volunteer in a group. Many groups and causes are trying to get their word out or get themselves known. Activist groups and charities both find strength in numbers.
Before you volunteer with friends or coworkers, follow these three pieces of advice to start:
· Help your group identify what they want to achieve as a whole as well as individually.
· Discuss ideas on volunteer activities that meet the needs above.
· Research the volunteer possibilities in the local community to find the one that best matches.
Volunteering is the perfect place to develop new skills. Employers are often seeking well-rounded individuals who have good teamwork and goal setting skills and volunteering on a committee is a great way to learn group dynamics and teamwork. Group work not only fosters teamwork, but also offers opportunities to learn more about different perspectives. You can strengthen your personal and professional teamwork and cooperating skills by exploring group opportunities and participation.
Figure out how much time you are willing and able to give. If you volunteer with a friend or group their schedule of availability may affect how much time you can put into your cause. Be sure to let someone know if you're available to volunteer on your own, as well as with the group. Some volunteer positions can last several years if an individual is committed. In addition, high school or college credit can sometimes be acquired if certain criteria are met.
Whether in a group or individually, choose your own pace and don't overcommit. There are many great ways to have fun and meet new people while supporting important causes and work!