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Strategies: Volunteer to Build Your Work Skills

Wendy Steele – Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Impact100 Global

It’s been my experience in my more than two decades of volunteering, that if you are feeling stuck, underappreciated, or have been told you are not ready to lead that big project or land that coveted promotion at work, it’s time to look outside of your role.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not recommending you quit your job. I am saying you can take charge of your career, gain valuable skills, and find fulfillment by building your extended professional community through volunteering.

Here’s why:

Let’s say you’ve thrown your hat in the ring for a promotion at your job but lack the additional skills and professional experience to increase your chances of landing that promotion. Volunteering can be an incredibly powerful avenue to help you acquire and practice these skills as nonprofit boards, volunteer committees and programs can serve as excellent training grounds.

For example, serving as part of a volunteer committee can help you exercise and develop additional skills in project management, leadership, public speaking, sales and fundraising, event planning and more, all while helping a cause that is important to you. Working alongside a new group of people can be educational and enlightening in new ways, leading to personal and professional growth.

Beyond growing your skills, volunteering can serve as a great way to grow your professional network by putting you in proximity with leaders and other business professionals that bring a different experience than you have. These new connections will broaden your views and perhaps even shift your impatience for a promotion to appreciation for the company and team you work with.

For example, let’s say you volunteer with The Humane Society. Chances are good that the other volunteers are in vastly different careers, at different stages of life, bring different skills and lived experience, yet share the love of animals, uniting you as a cohesive team. This immediate common ground connection between you and other volunteers can serve as an instant relationship builder and an outstanding opportunity to learn from each other.

This is important as a strong network of contacts can lead to better job opportunities in the future by minimizing the degrees of separation between you and someone else in the business world. Just remember that it’s important to have a genuine passion for the nonprofit you choose to assist, as authenticity is easy to spot and nearly impossible to fake.

Beyond the professional benefits involved in volunteering, there are physiological benefits that accompany giving back and doing good for the larger community. In fact, a study conducted in 2020, highlighted that individuals who frequently volunteered reported more satisfaction with their lives and rated their overall health as higher.

The emotional fulfillment that comes with serving as a leader or lending your talents for a cause you care about can sometimes supersede the fulfillment you gain by just doing well in your job. It can serve as a conduit for personal growth and gratification that goes beyond a salary or hourly wage and help bring in new perspectives for professional creativity and innovation.

Initially printed online by BizWomen Journal  March 2023

Connect with Wendy here at

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