Volunteers constitute an integral part of any successful organization and they are greatly valued for their contribution. Although being in a doctoral program brings its own share of work, I found myself volunteering not only at school but also outside of it. The one thing which kept me going was the genuine happiness I felt while volunteering. If you are wondering how and where to begin as a volunteer, continue reading to help you gain some ideas of your own!
Look no further than your own school if you are looking for a convenient position. You will be amazed by the number of volunteer positions available for students with or without prior experience. One of the best decisions I made was getting in contact with the Career Services Office at the School of Public Health.
Initially, I sought help from Dr. Simmons, the Director of the Career Services Office, to improve my application materials for a research position I was applying for. Throughout the meeting, she could not help pointing out how much she liked my writing style, and she also mentioned she was looking for volunteer bloggers.
This is how I found myself blogging for over a year and since the fall of 2016, I have been one of the two co-editors for the Career Services Offices’ blog. I not only get to develop my communication and leadership skills but also have the opportunity to do one of the things I enjoy most—writing.
Start Early and Reap the Benefits
Those who start early have already completed half of the search. Starting early also entails being proactive about the whole process. The best way to do this is to attend career fairs and any career-related events within and outside the school. It is common for those who start as volunteers in a certain position end up getting an internship or even a job after graduation. Put simply, volunteering can help you get a foothold on the job market.
This spring, I found myself volunteering as a behavioral scientist and a nutrition educator for Area 10 Agency on Aging. I could not have found a better place to put what I was learning into practice since my major is Health Behavior. Working with an amazing team with a goal to improve the overall health and well-being of elderly populations, I recently came to realize how volunteering can bring out the best team spirit within myself. Working collaboratively with other people has definitely been instrumental in helping me understand health issues from different perspectives.
Make a Difference in Others’ Lives
Volunteering is often viewed as a selfless action and it does make a huge difference in other people’s lives. This past Christmas Eve, I volunteered at the community kitchen serving meals to others. After the experience, I felt a genuine sense of happiness and gratitude to be able to do something for others without any personal gain. If you have some free time, try helping others in need and feel the difference in your outlook on life.
Volunteering might be time-consuming if you are a busy person, but it is certainly worth your time and energy. No matter what kind of volunteer position you end up doing or how much time you are willing to invest, give yourself that little push and go for it! You will not regret it!