Educator and Avid Volunteer Mychael Willon Highlights 3 Professional Development Benefits of Volunteering
It goes without saying that the primary goal of volunteering should be to help others. In fact, research has shown that volunteers whose motivation is self-serving rather than altruistic often find the experience draining instead of energizing, and stressful instead of rewarding. Yet with this being said, it is also true that volunteering provides volunteers with a range of personal benefits, including those related to their current and future career path.
According to educator and avid volunteer Mychael Willon, here are three professional development benefits of volunteering:
1. Build and Expand a Professional Network
For many people — especially those who aspire to management and leadership roles — the difference between succeeding and struggling isn’t exclusively a matter of hard work or skillset: it’s about the size, scope, and strength of one’s personal and professional network. To that end, volunteering can spark and foster relationships that open doors, and reveal hidden opportunities to grow and learn.
“Volunteering is a tremendous way to connect and meet with others who can ultimately play an indirect or indirect role in career advancement,” claims Mychael Willon, who currently serves as the President of the Warhill PTSA, and the Williamsburg/James City County PTA Council, respectively. “Sometimes, this support is formal, such as being invited to help with a specific job. Other times, it can be informal, such as getting some timely, wise advice from a fellow volunteer.”
2. Stand Out from a Crowd of Candidates
Research has confirmed what career coaches and HR professionals have been saying for decades: volunteers have a better chance of landing a job compared to non-volunteers. And once hired, volunteers are often tapped to lead teams due to their enhanced ability to work cooperatively with diverse groups, and meaningfully contribute to a shared vision.
Active and dedicated volunteers demonstrate that they are not just hard-working and community-minded, but that they’re not solely motivated by financial compensation. This is a vital consideration for employers, including those that pay top salaries in their marketplace. Employers want to know that the people they hire are driven by purpose and not just by a paycheck.
3. Identity Motivations and Provide Direction
Author and speaker Steven R. Covey wisely advised ambitious professionals to be careful and ensure that the ladder they are climbing is leaning against the correct wall. Otherwise, every step just leads to the wrong place faster. Volunteering can help people identify and clarify what truly drives and inspires them, which can ultimately help them head in the right direction career-wise.
“Many volunteers are amazed to discover how energized and satisfied they are performing tasks that aren’t typically part of their current career path,” commented Mychael Willon. “For example, they may have a job that involves a lot of independent work using computers, but through volunteering, they discover a real passion for teaching and training others. Or, they may have a job in the customer service field, and through volunteering find that they have a flair for financial administration and back-end operations. Equipped with these insights, volunteers can develop and shape their career path accordingly and potentially save themselves from decades of stress and unhappiness. It’s a low-risk, high-reward way to explore possibilities and develop skills.”