Article provided by Dessy Ohanians – Managing Director of Corporate and Certificate Programmes, London School of Business and Finance (LSBF) – Executive Education
Volunteering is the best form of what it really takes to get ahead, in business and in life.
Dedication of time and energy to a subject or skill results in an ever-increasing mastery in that capacity – and this is what we all want in our careers and social lives.
For many, crucially, this begins with volunteering.
Volunteering is a means applying your energy to improve in so many aspects, particularly if you want to begin taking the early steps in a career.
In giving career advice to anyone, not just young people, I always suggest volunteering as a means of gaining the vital experience required to gain a foothold on the climb to the role you hope to achieve.
Volunteering time is one thing, but offering your energy – to plan, to come to a solution, and to improve things from their current standing, is to go a long way in bettering the organisation and in improving your skills too.
The weight that volunteering lends to your CV is not to be underestimated. Volunteering yourself to one or two initiatives can show your potential employer your willingness to learn and to access new skills for the betterment of a shared cause – which can be a charity, business, or any social initiative.
For example, those looking to enter the teaching profession are recommended to volunteer some time working in a school so as to gain classroom experience which, as anyone who knows the sector will tell you, is essential.
Volunteering with a local charity by holding a donation pot in the street, designing some marketing materials such as posters or leaflets, or even drafting the groundwork for a business plan gives further weight to your CV, and does the good work all charities need.
If you’ve ever visited a typical NHS hospital, you’ll know that volunteers are part of the backbone that keeps the system working. They might not receive the highest of praise or greatest of attention, but they provide the vital time and effort that makes the wheels go around.
Personally, I have volunteered as a Governor for primary schools. This has the potential to aid your CV too as it shows you can understand the processes of a complex body such as a school, whilst fulfilling the community-minded responsibility of ensuring the school is running as it should be for its students.
In addition, I have also volunteered as a mentor to charities devoted to helping women through social enterprise. My experiences volunteering here meant I could give a positive example and provide advice to women looking to enter the professional world and achieve their career ambitions. It also gave me valuable insight into how things are for people outside of my upbringing, family, and career, and I’ve been able to apply these lessons to all other areas of my life.
To conclude, volunteering is an excellent means of gaining the skills and experiences you’re looking for, but it also provides the feeling that comes with committing yourself to a cause that matters to you and learning more of the world around you as you go.