Every year new grads are faced with the predicament of needing the experience to land their first job. The problem is they don’t have a job to gain the experience they need. Tricky, right?
This year is no different. After starting the year in the strongest job market in 50 years, recent college grads now face an uphill battle when it comes to landing their dream job out of college due to the global pandemic.
Consider the following:
- The unemployment rate for young people age 20 to 24 was 12.5% in September, the highest among adults.
- As of October, eleven million people remain unemployed, about twice the number in February.
- Job postings remain well below pre-pandemic levels.
While it’s easy to get caught up worrying about the stats and the current economy, here’s how you can gain valuable experience to build your resume and make a difference through volunteering.
Three Ways Volunteer Experience Helps New Grads
- Gain experience and Do Good
Most non-profit organizations have a similar structure as the companies you’ve been sending applications to — human resources, digital media, marketing finance, IT, project management, etc. But while the corporation you want to work for has a budget to hire, many non-profits look to volunteers to help with their day-to-day operations.
Reach out to an organization you care about and volunteer. Whether it’s writing thank you letters to donors, helping manage their social media presence, or even helping design their website, there’s an opportunity to gain relevant experience and develop your skills while supporting an organization that matters to you.
- An Opportunity to Network
Your fellow volunteers might be hiring managers, directors, entrepreneurs, etc. Having the opportunity to work side by side with them is an opportunity for you to create meaningful connections with like-minded individuals who may one day help you connect with a dream job or mentor you.
Plus, when you’re volunteering, the atmosphere tends to be more relaxed, allowing you the opportunity to shine without the pressure to impress.
- Helps with Your Stress Levels
Looking for a job can be stressful. You’re worried about paying back college loans, paying rent, and it’s easy to get caught up and stress yourself out. Volunteering helps you counter that by your brain releasing happy chemicals also known as dopamine, oxytocin, endorphin, and serotonin when you volunteer.
According to the Mayo Clinic Health System, when we boost these chemicals in our brains, it helps to “decrease blood pressure and cortisol, a stress hormone that directly impacts stress levels” and you end up with those special, deep, and touching moments.
As you can see, while going out into your community to do good is useful in developing your resume and experience, volunteering can also help improve your well-being, especially when uncertainty about the future is causing increased anxiety and stress.
Here’s how you can get started.
How to Gain Valuable Experience through Volunteering
- Reach out to non-profits you care about and offer you help.
Maybe it’s an organization you’ve worked within the past or one you’ve admired from afar. Reach out and see what volunteer opportunities they currently have and how you can sign up.
Pro-Tip: Regularly volunteering with the same organization can help you establish relationships with organizers and open up many more opportunities that may not be listed on their website.
- Look around your neighborhood
Sometimes the opportunity to help is just around the corner. When the pandemic hit in 2020, INC Giving volunteers, Natalie Fitzpatrick from Surrey, British Columbia, and Kesha Marges from New York City discovered that they didn’t need to go too far to find individuals to help. With neighbors unable to leave their homes due to the coronavirus, Natalie and Kesha took it upon themselves to pitch in and volunteer.
Learn more about what Natalie and Kesha did and see how you can do it in your neighborhood.
- Get Creative and Create Your Opportunities
Maybe you haven’t had the opportunity to volunteer yet, or you’re not sure where to start, but that shouldn’t stop you from creating an opportunity that brings together your interests and what you studied in school.
Take, for example, Sharlene Oca, a young teacher who took it upon herself to set up a Storytime Online when the shutdown started and kids weren’t able to go to school. Or Josh Menachen, a young chef in New York who used his culinary skills to feed those on the front lines.
Thinking outside the box and creating opportunities to do good can highlight soft skills your future employers are looking for like initiative, creative thinking, and problem-solving.
It might take time for the economy and job market to get back to what it was pre-covid, but it doesn’t mean you need to sit and wait for that moment to come to work on your resume. Go out there and volunteer! While you’re out spreading kindness, you’ll be doing something to help your development. How great is that?
We’d love to hear how you’re making a difference in your community. Send us your story or post it on social media and use #incgiving and #makekindnesscontagious in your post.
About the Writer:
Renezen Benedicto is a web content producer for INCMedia.org. She’s a long-time INC Giving volunteer and loves helping local organizations like Muttville and Back on My Feet.