Zareen Wajid, Talent Acquisition Specialist
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Not sure if you have noticed, but the holiday season is just around the corner. If you are anything like the high school and college student I was, you are probably super excited about sleeping in, good food, and presents and money. And, if you have amazing family and friends like I do, then you probably share the spirit of many thank yous, blessings, and community compassion that blooms during the holiday season.

Let’s focus on that community compassion part: the canned food drives and soup kitchens, the Angel Trees, the hand-written letters to soldiers overseas, the carol singing, and of course, the fundraising. Essentially, caught up in the holiday spirit, giving back to the community is a must!

THE GIVING: When you do volunteer your time, what happens? Well, hopefully, you arrive on time. You join a team. You learn the trade. You volunteer. But, it’s much more than that… You make someone’s life a little easier that day. You make someone smile. You leave a lasting impression. That’s giving.

THE TAKING: When you volunteer, you may not see it, but you are taking a lot too. I’ll let you figure out the soul-enrichment ordeal yourself. Instead, I will focus on the logistics/boring stuff 🙂

    1. You get to know people. Volunteering is a great opportunity to meet people. Don’t be afraid to converse, and get to know your community. How do you help others when you don’t know what they need help with? How do you come up with the idea to create the next best thing? How do you practice what you learn? You have to get to know them. Check out this young entrepreneur’s awesome story.
    2. People get to know you. Lucky for you, you aren’t the only volunteer. You are working side-by-side with individuals who already share something with you – the passion to give back. So, get to know them and let them get to know you… you already have an ice breaker set-up. You never know who you will meet, or who knows whom. You may be leading yourself to a job without knowing it. From personal experience, I volunteered at a hospital during high school every Sunday for a couple of years. My first job out of college: with that hospital.
    3. You get to know yourself. Volunteering is a free career-testing service. Seriously! Volunteer to learn what your strengths and weaknesses are. Volunteer to develop your soft skills. Volunteer to learn how to network and maintain relationships, how to communicate effectively, and how to learn continuously.

THE CORRELATION: Once you give and take, the correlation is easy to decipher. Simply put, volunteering leads to job offers.

I take it back (a little bit). Volunteering doesn’t magically lead to job offers. You can’t stand at a soup kitchen and slap food on plates, and expect a salary from it. You need enthusiasm, goals, and most importantly, a network. Volunteering paves the way for you to build your network. It is that network that will support you during your job search initiatives. Be strategic about your network; volunteering is a good way to showcase your skills, habits, passion, and learning ability to your network.

I want to conclude by saying that volunteering shouldn’t be limited to the holiday season. Back at school, get involved in extracurricular activities that seek volunteers to work with the community. That way, you are working with various professionals, as well as building and strengthening your network.

Here are a few common extracurricular activities to get you started:

All it takes is a little give and take, and you can be blessed with employment opportunities. Happy Holidays!