With how busy our lives are day to day, volunteering for many is often looked at as a burden. It sometimes seems impossible to volunteer and give back simply due to the lack of time. “I’m already giving 40 hours a week to a full-time job, or to my studies. How am I supposed to volunteer the little time left in a day that I have?”
I cannot necessarily tell you how to manage your time, but there is something I can tell you – volunteering is a lot more valuable than most people think. Volunteering is, in fact, worth your time and here’s why:
It is the perfect way to learn about yourself and others – it helps you find out things that you are passionate about, and things that don’t get your wheels turning quite as much. I volunteered at the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup. This experience showed me how much I loved being involved in running events, being in the action, and handling logistics. I would not have learned how much I enjoyed that type of work without that experience, simply because there are so few jobs for a young and relatively inexperienced university student in this area.
Building a network – I’ve had the opportunity to meet some truly incredible individuals who will be lifelong friends of mine from my volunteer experience. People volunteer for various reasons and with various interests. You will meet so many interesting people who come from all walks of life as a volunteer. It will help broaden your perspective and see things from a different point of view. In a volunteer setting, there is often less pressure than in a work setting – you feel comfortable to be yourself and in doing so you make lots of valuable connections, and quite honestly you will have a lot of fun.
The natural satisfaction we get from giving back – although it’s not the only purpose of volunteering, and arguably a bit self-serving, helping others is also a way of helping ourselves. It really is a win-win situation. Consider volunteer coaching – how great does it feel for athletes who win a game or master a new skill? In turn, how great does it feel for a volunteer coach to know he or she had an impact on those athletes in achieving their goals? There is no shame in admitting that helping others feels good for everyone.
Resume building – the sports industry is highly competitive, especially for a new graduate or young professional. It isn’t easy to get your foot in the door and you can’t expect it to be easy right out of the gate. It is hard to get the direct experience you want. However, volunteering is always a way to do this. There are not many organizations that would say no to someone willing to help them for free. Look up an organization you’re interested in. Reach out. Tell them you want to help out and be put into their volunteer database. Employers love to see that you are willing to get involved in areas you are passionate about. It shows them you are motivated by the right reasons. Volunteer experience on your resume can set you apart from other candidates. It separates you from those who might only be willing to put in the time to get the financial reward rather than those who will do whatever it takes to achieve their goals.
So next time you’re looking for a new challenge or opportunity, consider volunteering. Volunteer with those who need your help. Volunteer for an area out of your comfort zone. Volunteer to meet new people. I promise that at the end of each experience, you will truly realize the value that is in volunteering.