I am a big advocate of volunteerism. For me, it’s a labor of love. So I was thrilled to hear about other “love stories” in David W. Chen’s article Without a Job, but Working the Campaign Trail (New York Times, September 7, 2009).
1. Networking. Volunteers have the opportunity to meet all kinds of people, some “incredibly well educated, well trained, successful” such as “P.J. Kim, a 30-year-old Princeton and Harvard graduate, who is a City Council candidate in Lower Manhattan.”
2. Opportunity to Demonstrate Your Skills. A former commercial litigator in Manhattan “offered legal advice, called supporters, canvassed neighborhoods, trained volunteers.”
3. Restored Self Esteem. A former loan officer says “The contact with other people, the chance to do something different, the learning experience — it can all help you out with your emotions.”
4. Self-Discovery. A former equities analyst says “It’s not the money anymore; I want to do things that will have a real effect on people’s lives, as opposed to just trying to get a company out of a situation.”
5. Meaningfulness. Volunteering “restores some of what they lost along with their jobs: a place to go every day, a reason to put on a clean suit, people to work beside, a sense of purpose.”
Whether you are in a career transition or not, I hope you will consider the opportunity to network with others; demonstrate your skills; deepen your self esteem; discover what it is you want most; and find meaningfulness in your labor. That is, I hope you’ll consider volunteering.