Career Coach: The Value of Volunteering

Advice from Daniel Martinage, CAE, founder and principal of Association Coach, LLC.

How can board service or other volunteer activities boost your career? 

Volunteering for a professional society or trade association provides several benefits, including the opportunity to network with your peers around your professional
background or interests. It also exposes you to trends and best practices within your profession and gives you leadership training and experience.

Volunteering for a cause-related charity or program also has its benefits, such as broadening your exposure beyond the boundaries of your specific professional network and allowing you to show a more compassionate or passionate side.

Regardless of where and why you volunteer, the experience undoubtedly helps build your resume and adds to your marketability.  And volunteering can be an excellent way to learn more about a particular role or sector, especially if you’re coming from the for-profit sector and hoping to switch to nonprofit or government.

How can people align their skill sets with their volunteer activities? 

There are two things to consider here. Are you looking to utilize existing skills or to build new skills and gain expertise in an area slightly outside of your existing professional circle? If you’re seeking the latter, explore areas where you’ll get valuable experience, potential contacts, and fodder for your resume.

How should your volunteer activities change as you advance in your career?

As our careers advance, different drivers or motivators come into play. Very often what changes the most is our desire to give back to the profession or community that has contributed to our success. We switch our focus from being mentored to mentoring—or from getting experience to giving experience.

(Mustafa Deliormanli/Getty Images)

Daniel Martinage, CAE

By Daniel Martinage, CAE


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