As a recent or soon-to-be graduate, you know it’s important to get out there and get noticed.
However, you may be finding it difficult this early in your career. Maybe you’re feeling a little bit fresh or you’re not 100% confident with your current knowledge. Or you’re simply shy and it’s difficult for you to meet new people.
My solution to you: get out and volunteer.
Volunteering is a great way to meet people and show them what you’re capable of at the same time. It can offer amazing learning opportunities that will pay off large in the long run, a little later in your career.
The contacts and work-world experience you will obtain will be far more valuable than your average pay cheque.
Volunteering is also great if you’re eager to put all of that knowledge you just picked-up in school to the test, but are having a hard time landing a paid job in your field.
There’s nothing wrong with serving drinks to pay the rent, but you didn’t just graduate from college or university to get people drunk, let’s be honest. When you’re not busy pouring shots, devote some time to a volunteer job, and you’ll be out from behind that bar in no time.
The key here, of course, is finding a volunteer opportunity that pertains to the career path you plan to pursue. There are opportunities for this in all fields, some more obvious than others. For some you may even have to dig and create opportunities.
For example, I took a great interest in working in radio promotions during my first year as a public relations student at Algonquin College. There was a local station I had my eyes on, but they didn’t have any formal volunteer positions in place.
It took a boat load of emails and resumés, and a lot of persistence. Eventually, I was able to convince them to let me help out promoting at events. In no time, I was a paid employee, driving station vehicles and meeting all kinds of the right people.
I wasn’t even in it just to get hired there. My main focus was the fact I was going to meet so many people. Not to mention a good reference and the ability to add such an appealing detail to my resume.
It is the reason I have the job I’m in now. From one volunteer job, I have built a foundation of priceless business contacts. I now get paid to do exactly what I went to school for, and that’s why I call it paid volunteering!