The Value of Volunteering

By Donna Cardillo, RN, MA

Most people think of volunteering as charitable work, something you do to help others on your own time. However, volunteering is a valuable career resource that can enhance your career in numerous ways. Here are just a few of them.

Volunteering in an area you’re trying to break into is a great way to gain experience. For example, you may want to do more health education but can’t get a job in that area because of “lack of experience.” Consider volunteering for the American Red Cross and becoming a first aid or CPR instructor. Not only does the organization train and certify you, but in some cases they’ll even pay you for this work. Other nonprofit organizations, like the American Cancer Society and American Heart Association, have teaching programs too. Then you can apply for an education job with a “track record.”

If you’ve been on a hiatus from healthcare because of family issues or illness, volunteering is a great way to get yourself “back in.” You’ll start to build your self-confidence and make great contacts. Plus, you’ll have some valuable experience to show when you go on an interview for a paying job.

If you find yourself unemployed, volunteer until you find a paying position. Many volunteer positions have led to paid employment. This strategy is great for retirees who want to stay connected too.

Volunteering also builds your resume. Relevant volunteer experience looks great, especially for new grads. You don’t have to get paid for something for the experience to be valuable.

So how do you find these volunteer opportunities? It’s easy – open up your phone book and look under “social services.” Here you’ll find a long list of agencies that could use your help. Find a few that are of interest and give them a call. Tell them you’re a nurse interested in volunteer work with their agency.

If you’re an ex-smoker or have arthritis, offer your life experience to relevant organizations such as the American Lung Association or the Arthritis Foundation. You’re not limited to social service agencies either. Call your local cardiac rehabilitation center or hospital quality assurance department and tell them you’re interested in volunteering.

Finally, aside from the many career benefits, volunteering gives you the opportunity to do what you do best–make a valuable contribution to the world around you by helping others.

Reprinted with permission from Nurses.com (www.nurses.com).
Copyright by Verticalnet, Inc., Horsham, PA., 215-315-3247.