4 Reasons Why You Should Volunteer (More Often)

I am a volunteer for more than 8 years and I love it! I help others, I help myself, and I help the world become a better place.

You gain work experience in your preferred field

Volunteering is one of the first and easy things you can do to get more clarity and a real taste about one field or another, no matter if you are a disoriented student or an employee who is considering switching careers. Almost everyone is open to get people on board as volunteer because there are just so many things that can be done in any place.

Want to be a doctor? Volunteer on an ambulance and see if you can resist the pressure. Want to see one day in the life of a lawyer? Send an email to a lawyers’ office and ask to do some work for them. Want to find out how a software engineer makes that app work? Well, for this you kind of need to self-learn a bit and then just do it. But you get the point. Basically, while volunteering, you do shadowing and steal the best practices of the job.

My advice? Volunteer to startups and non-profit organizations. A corporate can live by its own until some point, but these people are just creating their own space in the market. Help them. And help yourself. You don’t know when you will use one of the services one startup will provide in the future and I guess you won’t mind if you get extra discounts for setting up that service, right?

Volunteering has thought me to learn how to juggle various tasks, to do multi-tasking, and to differentiate between soft and hard deadlines. I was a Marketing volunteer in many student organizations, doing PR, copywriting and graphic design for so many projects, even establishing strong brands. Starting 2013, I had acquired the hard skills needed in this sector and this helped me getting clients and jobs in the Marketing industry without having academic-related studies. Volunteering was a true advantage over other candidates in the work field.

Put those 2 hours that you probably spend on Netflix each afternoon into learning something new that will help both other and you. You will get you closer to your dream job. Or not — but at least you know what’s the deal.

Free entrance to events and easy access to information

I like festivals, but I absolutely love them when I can be in the backstage. Especially before starting! You need a strategy, a plan, providing food and drinks, making sure that all the safety and healthy measures will be in place. You need to adapt quickly when something is missing or people are not showing up. Just like at any other project, that’s true.

In 2016 I was a volunteer to Anim’est International Animation Film Festival, the only festival in Romania dedicated to animated film. I was sitting at the info desk, offering guidance and information to guests and customers, along with brochures, flyers and name tags. Another thing I did was to make sure that the jury of the competition arrived safely to their accommodation. I drove together with another volunteer to the airport and sat with a sign that stated Animest in my hands, so that the guest would recognize us. From there, up to the hotel room, asking about their well-being, offering some administrative info and let them rest. When finished, we went back to the location of our stand and resume our main task. The really nice thing about this experience? Got free entrance to any movie (even the most expensive ones) and got to know people who later become partners in different projects.

Now, in September 2020, I was a volunteer at the Maker Faire Eindhoven show (and tell). As you can imagine, organizing a festival during Corona times is not a 🍰. More than 200 stands and more than 15K guests/day were present last year. This year? Maybe 50 stands and less than 1K guests/day. As a volunteer, I greeted people at the entrance, checked their tickets, presented the map of the building and reminded them of the Corona measures they have to respect. I also wandered around the building to make sure that people actually respect the measures and that the time slots were enforced. I also volunteered to setting up the scene (more than 100 meters square) and that preparation fuss provided me with quite an adrenaline. I got up on a crane at more than 10 m high and hung up lots of banners, some of them having dimensions of 700x1500 cm or even more! What I got out of this experience? I had bonded with one of the colleagues I will work this year at Kickoff EHV and got to know other people (prize-awarded individuals — one of them is developing a technology that will show early signs of breast cancer for young women at even 20 years old), along with getting meal coupons to fancy restaurants and a home-delivered gift after the ending of the festival.

Festivals and any other big events are a way to increase your network and build relationships with people from truly different backgrounds, which will benefit you in the long run by securing you paid gigs.

Your network will double or even triple

Volunteering not only gives you work experience, but also many opportunities to grow your network. Especially during this period, networking is the best free tool you can use to form business relationships and friendships with people all over the world.

Since you can volunteer in almost any industry, you have many events and projects at your disposal that you can get involved in. Go and demonstrate your skills, apply your knowledge and grow your network. If you are a technical person, you can volunteer setting up hackathons, which are an excellent networking environment.

Whatever volunteering work you do, remember to interact and build relationships with other volunteers and with the organizers. You are there to help them and they are there to help you. It’s the perfect symbiosis.

Volunteering makes you a better person

At your studies or at your work, your bubble is pretty much stable. Safe environment, known colleagues and procedures, nothing spectacular. If you have a 9–5 work schedule, chances are that, afterwards, you either go to the gym, cook, read a bit, scroll infinitely on Social Media channels or become a couch-potato and press the play button on a streaming platform. Not that is anything wrong with these things, of course! But I can only talk from experience: volunteering helped my mental heath and improved my physical condition, due to the demanding speed at which I had to operate sometimes. Another thing I noticed both at me and at other was that that feeling of altruism put us in a state of general well-being. To know that you did something useful for others is pure gold. And when you know that you satisfied your personal interest as well (be that in terms of skills, knowledge or just feeling better), you really feel content and proud of yourself.

It’s a big world out there and so many things can’t be done without volunteers. Remember: you volunteer to help yourself, others and the entire world. Find something that match your values and passions and kickoff your volunteering experience!



A collection of my rides and rollercoasters presented as stories about living as an expat in The Netherlands, bipolar disorder, non-profit (student) organizations and entrepreneurship.

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Cristina Gabriela Damian

Industrial Design Engineer Graduate. Content writer and graphic designer, dissecting modern social issues. Yes, it was almost a shock for my parents as well.