This post is part of a series of posts put together collaboratively with GeoGradGuide.com, a "geo-community supported resource for geoscience students looking to navigate early career tasks and objectives." Geogradguide.com is managed by the Land and Water Lab at the University of Florida. Feel free to pass on this resource to any geo-students who may be interested!
Volunteering is a great way to serve your community and to support causes you care about. In 2015 (the last year for which data is available), volunteering contributed over $180 billion dollars to the U.S. economy; volunteers are valuable to the organizations with which they work.
Beyond helping others, volunteering provides specific benefits to young professionals aiming to increase their professional profile. Finding a job after earning a degree can be difficult. Volunteering can help fill a “résumé gap” and can help you learn skills that will be useful for future work. It also signals to potential employers that you are a person of integrity and character. In a recent survey of people in positions of hiring, 82% of respondents said they would be more likely to choose a candidate with volunteer experience and 85% said they would be willing to look over other résumé “flaws” when volunteer work is included on a résumé.
For new graduates, volunteering can be essential both as a way to lengthen and broaden their experience. Not only will volunteering help you learn new skills or hone existing ones, it can connect you with a network of respected people and organizations doing important work. Some of these respected leaders can later serve as references, or may be able to connect you to other leaders. As you build up your network, you will begin to gain rapport within these communities until you yourself are considered a trusted leader.
When you volunteer with an organization, it also gives you the opportunity to represent something greater than yourself. This is useful as you approach funding organizations, political leaders, community figureheads, and potentially even publication outlets (this can be especially important if you are doing community-based research).
Finally, for young professionals in the geosciences, there are also many opportunities to volunteer with professional organizations, such as the American Geophysical Union, the Geologic Society of America, or the American Association for the Advancement of Sciences. Volunteering as a student or recent graduate can help connect you connect with more established geoscientists and with your peers. As you gain more experience, volunteering to serve in leadership positions within these and similar organizations is a great way to network and shape the direction of science as a whole!
Further resources on the benefits of volunteering:
Original post at geogradguide.com is here.