Career Advice: How to Maximize Community Service

Smiling volunteers pass out food during a drive.

Volunteering presents a unique opportunity to meet people, discover talents, and fuel passions – whether it be helping others, helping the planet, or some other noble cause.

While the resulting serotonin boost, alone, makes this benevolent work worthwhile, there are other benefits to community service that are often overlooked. 

Maybe you’ve had ample experience volunteering, are looking to try it out for the first time, or fall somewhere in the middle. Regardless, there are plenty of opportunities to go around – each of them offering great potential to learn more about yourself and others.

“​​Giving back to others is a lifestyle,” says career expert Tiffany Tram. “It doesn’t always need to be a formal, explicit relationship – but, rather, it is an individual seizing the opportunity to give back and, by doing so, expanding their heart, their mind, and their worldview.” 

We spoke with Tram as well as some of our other career coaches and experts to gather tips and learn how community service can fast-track you towards meaningful life and career opportunities.

Four Tips to Maximize Your Community Service

As it turns out, helping others and helping yourself are not mutually exclusive. Participating in community service can boost your personal, social, and professional life. Here’s what our experts recommend:

  1. Focus on alignment. When pursuing community service opportunities, prioritize organizations that share your values. The more passionate you are about the cause, the less volunteering will feel like work.
  2. Expand your network. The past few years have taught us that networking – especially in-person – is not to be taken for granted. In sharing passions and experiences with others, you might form valuable connections with people that could vouch for you.
  3. Do your best work. You never know who is watching. Use service opportunities to showcase your skills and talents. Be sure to capture relevant wins, key metrics, and completed projects on your resume, as you would with freelance positions.
  4. Make service part of your story. Employers often seek out mission-driven candidates who possess desirable transferable skills. Feature community service in your professional brand and career materials – this might help you stand out among other candidates.

Advice from Our Coaches and Experts

Our career experts and coaches are no strangers to mission-driven work, themselves. Aside from daily interactions with students and job seekers, many of them participate in community service and volunteer work. Hear from a few of them, in their own words, as they discuss their experiences and advice for navigating community service opportunities.

Ready to update your career materials based on previous community service? Head over to our Tools & Resources page to learn more about what employers are looking for in your industry.

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