Thanksgiving is upon us – and as you already know, it’s the perfect chance to reflect and give thanks for all the good things that fill our days.
Thanksgiving Day is an annual national holiday celebrated across the United States and Canada on the 24th of November. The day celebrates the harvest and other blessings of the past year.
It’s generally believed Thanksgiving is modeled on a 1621 harvest feast shared by the English colonists (Pilgrims) of Plymouth and the Wampanoag people.
Give Thanks Through Volunteering
You may have already picked up on it, but around at Explore Careers, we’re big advocates for the benefits of volunteering!
Whether you want to spend Thanksgiving helping those less fortunate or host a community get-together to celebrate the day, Thanksgiving is the perfect chance to see where you can give back to those around you.
You could give time for a one-off event or use the day to explore ongoing volunteer opportunities. Not only does it help you start building some superb work-based skills, but it also helps you grow as a person, explore new areas of work, meet new people, and give back to causes you care about in your community – what’s not to love!
Volunteering to Explore a Career or Job Role
Volunteering can offer you the chance to try job roles or learn about specific industries and organizations.
Volunteering in this way might involve:
➔ Helping out with a specific event or campaign.
➔ Regularly giving your time to help out once or twice a week or month in a role aligned with your career choices.
➔ Job shadowing and workplace observations in organizations offering the career(s) you’re interested in.
You can find opportunities for these types of roles through:
➔ Dedicated volunteering sites.
➔ Approaching organizations in your local area and making inquiries.
➔ Speaking with family members and your wider network – especially those working where you’d like to – and asking about some job shadowing or spending a day or two learning more with the team.
Volunteering for Personal Growth
We know one of the biggest anxieties young people have when entering any form of the workplace for the first time is usually around their confidence!
School tends to focus on teaching you to have the correct answers, and when you enter a new environment where you don’t know anything or very little, it can feel daunting to say, “I’m new here, and I don’t know anything yet!”
Volunteering is a great way to help boost your confidence and develop vital personal skills that will set you up nicely for success in future work opportunities!
Some of these include:
➔ Communication – talking to new people and building relationships.
➔ Social skills – learning about others from different walks of life.
➔ Confidence – finding the power in learning, being the newbie, and accepting you’re growing.
➔ Resilience – you’ll probably make a mistake or two – and that’s okay! Personal growth is about learning from those mistakes and getting ready to try again.
If you want to use volunteering to grow in this way, look for opportunities that:
➔ Are short-term – perhaps supporting a one-off event or campaign.
➔ Are entry-level – this might mean handing out flyers, serving soft drinks, setting up tables or chairs – straightforward stuff you can build on.
➔ Group-focused – look for opportunities that involve bringing groups of people or other volunteers together so you can maximize all that great personal growth and get exposure to lots of different people.
Volunteering for Skills Growth
Whatever way you look at volunteering, there’s one definite thing – it will help you boost all those lovely employability skills employers love seeing on your resume!
➔ If you want to boost project and time management skills, look for roles where you’re helping to deliver an event or program of events.
➔ If you want to improve your presentation or communication skills, look for roles where you’re actively talking to people, such as reading to small children at your local library or helping run classes at your community center.
➔ If you want to work in hospitality or catering, look for entry opportunities where you can be around food service to help learn about food health, safety, and hygiene.
If you want to focus on developing specific skills for a specific career, start by:
- Researching the career and potential job roles – look at job ads and see what skills keep coming up.
- Consider the activities and tasks that would help you develop these skills (ask a teacher, parent, or careers advisor to help!)
- Match these activities to volunteer opportunities.
Being strategic will help you set clearer definitions about the types of work you want to do and give you lots of positive, proactive things to talk about when attending interviews.
3 Things You Must Do Every Time You Volunteer
One of the critical things with volunteering is to start small – don’t make bigger commitments than you’re ready for, especially as you’re still learning what sorts of things you’re most interested in (and have schoolwork to juggle).
One-off events and short-term opportunities will give you lots to think about and help you develop your skills in vibrant ways.
After any volunteering you complete, make sure you:
- Update your resume: Include what you did, who with, how long for, and three key things you helped deliver and/or learned from the opportunity.
- Get a reference: Ask whoever you reported to if they would mind writing a short reference for you about how you did that you can use on your resume or send to future work opportunities.
- Thank your team: Even when the opportunity is short-term, take the time to thank everyone and let them know if they helped you somehow. Thank them for their time and support. Not only is this just good manners, you never know what might come up in the future, and making sure you leave people with a positive impression goes a long way.
Find Your Next Volunteering Opportunity
You can ask friends and family members, reach out to local libraries and community centers and speak to your school careers advisor to learn more.
Check out the following websites for more details on where you can find some great opportunities: