Volunteer Your Way Into a New Career

calendar_today April 18, 2016
schedule min read


Does the following Steve Jobs’ quote ring true to you? It does for me. And it probably does for anyone who has passion for their work.

Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do.

When he references “work,” he’s not necessarily saying a paying career or a job. Maybe work means ‘volunteer work’. For some of us, turning volunteer work into a career is a viable option. Why not get paid for doing something you love?


I can think of several instances where I’ve volunteered my time, energy and skills, plus followed my heart by helping others, believed in a cause and pursued my passions – all to find job opportunities presenting themselves to me.

Others start volunteer work as a way to get involved in their community and soon realize they have a passion for that work. And then they figure out that their passion is something they could actually get paid to do.

What a concept: Get paid for doing something you love! With hard work, onsite training and patience, the perfect job – or even career – may be calling. But it doesn’t happen by accident.

Steve Jobs didn’t say this, but part of doing ‘great work’ and turning volunteer work into a profession means following a few rules along the way. If you want to find your purpose in the business world, my advice would be to do what you love. Sometimes it’s that simple. I donated my social media marketing and writing skills to a tourist-focused nonprofit for a few months and before I knew it they asked me to join their team.

Here are few tips to turning a volunteer position into a paying job or career:

Treat Volunteer Work Like A Job. Be courteous and professional when dealing with others, whether you’re among other volunteers, or customers or paid staff. Build relationships with those people. Just because you aren’t getting a paycheck doesn’t necessarily mean you can act super casual, especially if that’s not the culture of the organization. Common sense, right? Take your time to get to know the inner workings or culture of the organization. It probably goes without saying, but don’t forget to work hard.

Take Initiative. Don’t be shy about informing the company or organization that you are interested in a paid position. They won’t know unless you tell them. Also, take the lead on projects that come up. Pitching ideas shows initiative and that you are capable of handling more responsibility.

Be sincere. This is not just being polite and nice to your co-workers, but also being utterly dedicated and focused for your work. Managing your time and work efficiently will help you gain great heights in your career, which will generate a sense of appreciation in your colleagues y. It’s as simple as carrying a generous smile on your face and that in turn will make others smile, too!

Have self-confidence. Volunteering makes us feel good about ourselves. When we know we are providing value to others, or a cause or an organization; volunteering helps boost self esteem. Assisting the community, while making new friends along the way, connects you to other people with similar ideologies. Sometimes connections can lead to job opportunities. Volunteers need to realize how important they are to nonprofits because without them, the doors of some businesses would literally close to the public. Volunteers who are confident in their skills and abilities make themselves more marketable as an employee.

If you are currently out of work or know someone who is, taking on volunteer duties is a good way to spend your time while job hunting. According to a study, “Volunteering as a Pathway to Employment,” volunteers are 27 percent more likely to find a job after being out of work than non-volunteers.

“Volunteerism can be a way to help unemployed workers expand their network of contacts, improve their résumés, and make a positive impression in a competitive job market,” Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis states in that study.

Not everyone desires to turn volunteer work into a paying job or career, but just imagine what a different world this would be if everyone was passionate about their jobs! And as Confucius once said: “Choose a job you love and you will never have to work in your life.

For more information on details, you can also refer to this comprehensive guidebook on volunteering abroad.


Author Bio: Melissa Davidson is a freelance writer & social media marketer in Boise, Idaho. In a former life, she was a newspaper reporter for several publications throughout the West. When she’s not hovering over her keyboard, Melissa can be found running and riding through the foothills with her dog, Romeo, chasing her down.

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