Career

3 Ways Volunteering Can Also Be Beneficial To Your Career

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Joanne Poh

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Singaporeans love free stuff, but they don’t always like giving away things for free. Resources are scarce, we’re often told, so hang on to that MRT seat for dear life if you’re lucky enough to have gotten it. But there’s hope—there’s evidence to show that more and more Singaporeans are volunteering these days. Apparently almost 1/3 of Singaporeans were volunteering in 2013.

While we’re not asking you to partake in enforced volunteering like secondary school students selling flags to chalk up “community involvement points”, if you do happen to be interested in giving of your time, you might be pleasantly surprised to discover that volunteering can benefit your career, too. Here’s how.

 

Volunteer to do something that’s within your job scope

Just because everyone else is tutoring underprivileged kids or talking to elderly people at old age homes doesn’t mean those are the only things you can do. There are volunteer opportunities in most fields, so you can give of your time while upgrading your own work skills at the same time.

  • Media or PR –  Most organisations need some kind of help with publicity and creating promotional materials. Action for Singapore Dogs needs help organising fundraising events and content writing.
  • Web design and development – Most organisations have a website that needs maintaining. If your favourite charity has a website that harks back to the 90s, offer to give them a revamp and you’ll have a new project to add to your portfolio. The Singapore Heart Foundation is looking for someone to help maintain their website and assist with online campaigns.
  • Event planning – Plan birthday parties for kids and the elderly with Food from the Heart, an organisation that also arranges for leftover bread from bakeries to be sent to the needy.
  • Engineering – Engineers Without Borders has a range of local and international projects for engineers from all industries.
  • Law – The Pro Bono Services Office runs legal clinics where lawyers can dispense free advice to needy people.
  • Accounting – Calculator warriors can help charity boards with their accounting issues at Pro Bono Accountancy.

 

Make new contacts

Anyone who’s ever attended a networking session knows that in a sea of people desperately trying to stuff their business cards into the pockets of every passer-by, it’s hard to be memorable. Everyone is just trying to find someone who can benefit them, and the overall atmosphere is decidedly dog-eat-dog.

When you’re volunteering, on the other hand, there are generally good vibes all around as people work together for a cause they believe in. People don’t volunteer unless they have something to offer, and particularly if you’re volunteering for an organisation or cause that’s particularly relevant to your job or industry, you’ll meet people who can help you in your professional life.

And these people are much more likely to refer clients to you or recommend you for a job than that guy you spoke with for five minutes at a networking event. They’ll have seen some of your abilities at work and are more likely to have a friendly relationship with you.

 

Add new achievements to your resume

If the only thing you’ve achieved outside of work dates back to Secondary 4 and has something to do with your last piano exam, you’re probably not aware that your activities outside of work can also help to pad your resume. When you’re volunteering for an organisation, you become personally invested in a project or a cause, and when your efforts produce results, they’re fair game for your CV.

The more details (especially numbers) you publish on your CV, the more convincing an achievement looks, so don’t forget to take note of and include the following:

  • The amount of money you raised in a fundraising drive.
  • The number of people involved in an event you organised.
  • The amount of traffic you drove to an organisation’s website.
  • The number of cases you handled or beneficiaries you helped in the past year.
  • Details of any problems you solved successfully.

If Singaporeans realise that they too stand to benefit from helping others and so decide volunteering is a good use of their time, that can’t be be a bad thing.

Do you volunteer? Tell us where you volunteer and what you do in the comments!

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Joanne Poh

In my previous life, I was a property lawyer who spent most of my time struggling to get out of bed or stuck in peak hour traffic. These days, as a freelance commercial writer, I work in bed, on the beach, in parks and at cafes, all while being really frugal. I like helping other people save money so they can stop living lives they don't like.