Volunteering and Continued Service for Personal and Professional Growth

As with military service, volunteering and serving overseas, CONUS, or in your community can provide lasting, positive effects. There is numerous benefits volunteers’ experience that can impact their personal and professional lives. In fact, the list can be extraordinarily long; however we will focus on just a few in this article.

Establish and/or expand your network:

This aspect is vitally important and one that I experienced first-hand after completing my service in the USMC. While attending university, myself and fellow Veterans led and directed numerous projects along with student groups resulting in newly cultivated relationships. We established meaningful connections with university leaders at all levels and it wasn’t long before we became the go-to for time sensitive tasks. Additionally, our network began to grow substantially with external, non-profit organizations that focused on helping veterans. It’s amazing when you consider a group of student vets banded together, thus growing their network immediately. Over a short period of time, we increased participation among the student veteran population, networked with external organizations, and gained access to vital resources. Several individuals even found meaningful employment through their new connections, which all started by volunteering.

Relevant resume experience:

While volunteering, individuals get the opportunity to work on real world projects. These are temporary endeavors resulting in unique outcomes. For example, you may work with Homes for our Troops to help with a project to build an adaptive home for an injured service member. During the building phase, you may be tasked with completing the landscaping activities. Additionally, you may be in charge of a team.

Now think about it, if you remain an active volunteer with one or more organizations and continue to do so for several years, you will have some serious time working on and leading projects. You’ll sharpen your skills and potentially gain new competencies, all of which can be documented and the amount of time quantified.

From the study, “Does It Pay to Volunteer?” – research found that unemployed people who volunteered between 20 and 99 hours during the year were approximately 7% more likely to have found employment within the next 12 months.

Fulfillment for life:

The evidence is clear: serving others is a proven method to establish meaningful relationships outside of your normal circles. Volunteering is fun, interesting, and can even be relaxing. Just like serving in the military, you’re giving a piece of yourself to help, benefit, or provide security to people you may never even meet. As Ronald Raegan said, “Some people spend an entire lifetime wondering if they made a difference in the world. But, the Marines don’t have that problem.” I would certainly expand that thought to all service members and the people who volunteer their time to help others. It is an incredibly rewarding experience and has been linked to higher rates of happiness among those who frequently volunteer compared to those who never do.

Today, it’s easier than ever to go out and find volunteer opportunities. Whether it’s Veteran or non-Veteran related activities there are many individuals who could use a helping hand. Continue serving and grow your network, build your resume, and find fulfillment as you did in the military!