Volunteering and the Importance of Being Involved

The myOptions Team

I walked into my first job interview a little over two months ago. I was nervous, my heart was beating a little too quickly for comfort, and to top it all off, I forgot to eat breakfast. (Pro-tip: never forget to eat breakfast; it’s a bad idea.)

So...the first thing that my interviewer asked me about was my resume, and in particular how much volunteer work I had done over the past few years - luckily that was a lot. From there, the interview went fantastically well and lead to a job offer that same day.

Until then, I didn’t truly realize how much being involved with my community would affect my life. Not only has volunteering helped with potential jobs and scholarship opportunities, it has also offered incredible experiences for personal growth. I have learned so much from my times working in soup kitchens, fixing people’s homes, and teaching fifth graders after school and feel privileged to interact with people from all walks of life.

An impactful memory from my volunteering happened during a mission trip with my youth group. Along with a team of other teenagers from around the country, I was assigned to fix up the home of a family who had given so much to their community and asked nothing in return. As we were helping clean out their basement, the mother of the family told us about her life and the time she spent working with emotionally unwell and special needs children. At the time, that was something I was seriously considering as a career. During my trip, I had grown close to her, so she was more than happy to talk more about her experiences in the field, give me tips, and even give me a book on psychology that she had. Although my aims for the future have changed since then, she definitely helped shape my ideas about what I wanted to pursue and for that I am forever grateful.

Volunteering has not only taught me a ton, but it has allowed me to meet so many people that have facilitated connections to potential jobs. While volunteering at my church, a fellow volunteer overheard me talking about a software engineering course I was taking. As it turns out, he’s a software engineer. He offered to teach me a few things and even went as far as to offer a potential internship. If I hadn’t gotten involved within my community, I would never have gotten that offer.

Aside from the opportunities and rewards that arise through volunteering and community involvement, the most important thing to me when I volunteer is that I am making a difference for people and causes I care about, and there is no reward greater than that. When working at a soup kitchen, you’re not just learning skills in food service, you’re feeding someone in need. When you’re fixing a dilapidated house, you’re repairing someone’s home. Even though you might not always realize it, you are helping someone who does not have the ability to help themselves.

So, if you’re interested in volunteering, go out and do it. Get in touch with your local animal shelter, church, food pantry etc. Look online at the many websites that connect volunteers with people who need them. Heck, even look in your local newspaper! There is always someone out there who could use your help and you have more to offer than you could ever imagine!

Article courtesy of Philomena Kelly

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