Volunteering for Work Experience

In the world of online webinars and how-to videos, there are many ways to learn new skills and perfect existing ones. The real trick is applying each skill in outlets that show value to future employers.

Skills-based volunteering allows an individual to enhance their resume and make valuable connections in their chosen industry or in a new industry. These experiences help to establish contacts for networking, receive letters of recommendation from professionals in the field and make a substantial contribution to overall job potential.

Here are a few reasons why giving back to the community can enhance a candidate’s professional experience:

Exposes New Career Paths

Skill-based volunteering is a great way to learn more about a specific function or industry, especially if a volunteer is considering developing a new skill, offering a personal skill outside of their career or transitioning to the government or nonprofit sector.

Develops New Skills

When switching careers or climbing the corporate ladder, skill-based volunteering presents opportunities to showcase particular skills that may be a good fit for a new role.

Cultivates a Network

Whether by attending charity events or volunteering time, charitable involvement is a great way to meet new people and expand a professional network. It can be a great way to form a real connection with someone than through a shared passion.

Ways to Get Involved

Many companies across the Charlotte region encourage employees to give back to the community through utilizing their professional skillset.

Beyond Bank of America’s financial partnership with YWCA Central Carolinas, bank employees have advanced the mission through volunteerism with LEAD for Women, the company’s employee network for women. Since 2011, this group of talented women have volunteered monthly to facilitate workshops with the women living in YWCA’s transitional housing programs. Part of this Empowerment Series includes discussions on how to manage finances, how to have healthy boundaries in relationships, and strategies for keeping peace during conflict.

Supportive Housing Communities also host a variety of skill development workshops for their residents such as:

  • Life Skills Workshops (led by Bank of America)
  • Legal Clinic (Bank of America, Merrill Lynch)
  • Computer Skills Classes (Mecklenburg Library -Main Library)

Another approach to skill-based volunteering is mentoring or tutoring. Recently, SunTrust Bank presented a financial literacy group to A Child’s Place K-2 scholars at Ashley Park. ALLY Bank employees mentor residents of Supportive Housing Communities through a Job Readiness Program, which helps individuals create a resume and prepare for a job interview.

However, skill-based volunteering is not just for active professionals. Retirees, who may not be ready to hang their hat after a full career, can volunteer with eager nonprofits in areas such as finance, marketing, consulting, administrative duties and fundraising.

To exercise your expertise, email Doug Macomb at dougm@handsoncharlotte.org.

Published in the Charlotte Business Journal: April 2017


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