[Note:This is part of a guest blogging series highlighting good deeds across Chicago. If you have a story to share, we want to hear it! Email firstname.lastname@example.org.]
By Elizabeth Campbell, @Chi_Elizabeth, development associate at Y-ME National Breast Cancer Organization
For the past few years, volunteering has become a huge part of my life. When the economy tanked and absolutely no one was hiring, I decided to do some volunteer work for fun and for my résumé. It turned out to be much more beneficial than I first imagined.
I was not only padding my résumé while still in college, but also gaining skills, networking and discovering a new career path.
I learned there’s not just one way to volunteer. I’ve helped out in administrative offices, in my own home at my computer, and even in a marsh. I’ve done data entry, social media marketing, and fundraising. As I discovered new skills I wanted to improve, I was able to find more organizations that were willing to let me help them.
I learned that the friendships I earned while volunteering for causes I believed in, with people who were passionate about those causes as well, would make even a bad day fun.
I learned that when I worked hard for free, the people I helped were happy to support me when you need to step back. And that there’s no shame in limiting your volunteer work. What little time you can give is often more than enough.
I learned that it could still be really hard to say ‘no’ to these newfound friends at these organizations. And only because I enjoyed volunteering with them so much.
I learned that I wanted to have a career in the nonprofit sector as a fundraiser. I decided to focus those skills as well as continue to promote volunteerism.
And after graduating from college, leaving all my wonderful friends and their organizations behind to move to a new city, I learned that all that volunteering paid off. My résumé, my friends and my passion helped me earn a position as a fundraiser for a great organization here in Chicago. The nonprofit experience, the wonderful references and my work ethic made it possible.
So if you’re wondering how volunteering can benefit you, you’ll be glad to know that there’s a lot to learn along the way.
Elizabeth is a recent graduate from the Savannah College of Art and Design. She is currently a fundraiser for a breast cancer organization in Chicago. You may find her on Twitter or on her blog, Will Work for Free.