While organizations, schools and communities reap an abundance of benefits from their volunteers, the volunteers themselves also benefit in a variety of ways. For some, the benefits are primarily a boost of self-confidence and self-esteem that comes from knowing you are helping others. Other volunteers enjoy the experience as a chance to socialize with others and to build friendships based on common interests. Depending on your age and lifestyle, you could also use volunteer work to increase your professional skills, try out a new career or simply take a break from the pressures of your current job and enjoy a different type of activity.

While parents often feel overworked and exhausted by the pressures of raising a family, volunteering in your child's school or in your community can actually relieve pressure. The World Volunteer Web says that volunteering can be a good way to connect with other people in your community and to "return to society some of the benefits that society gives you." Volunteering as a family can create long-lasting memories and shared interests between siblings and their parents.

High School Students
Some high schools require community service of their students because they recognize the value in getting teenagers to connect with their neighbors and to explore interests outside of school. TeensHealth.org says, "If you're feeling frustrated or overwhelmed by the news of a disaster, volunteering to help can be a great way to cope. If you'd like to support a cause but can't afford to donate money, you can donate your time instead."

Not only do teens benefit from the experience of volunteering, but colleges and employers are often impressed when a teenager can show their level of commitment and responsibility by volunteering.

College Students and Recent Graduates
Some college programs require students to spend time at an unpaid internship in order to gain work experience. Volunteer work for college students and recent graduates can solve the conundrum of employers who prefer to a hire someone with experience. Even if your volunteer work is outside your preferred area of employment, you can build professional skills and gain life experience by volunteering. A survey by TimeBank through Reed Executive, cited by the World Volunteer Web, showed that 73% of employers would recruit a candidate with volunteering experience over one without. At the same time, 94% of employers believe that volunteering can add to skills, and 94% of employees who volunteered to learn new skills had benefited either by getting their first job, improving their salary or being promoted.

Whether you are content in your current career, unemployed or hope to switch careers, volunteer work can be equally beneficial. The "Cornell Retirement and Well-Being Study" by researchers at Cornell University showed that volunteer work is particularly beneficial for people making the transition to retirement. According to the study, many men between the ages of 34 and 54 participate in community service to enhance their careers. While women also do community service during those years, they typically do slightly less because they spend more time raising their families.

Volunteer work can be an excellent way to build new skills, make new connections with people in different industries and to renew your energy when you are bored by your current job or are frustrated by the process of seeking work.

Making the transition to retirement can often be difficult for people who are used to the social interaction of the workplace and who seek the feeling of purpose that comes with a schedule. A study by the George Warren Brown School of Social Work at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, showed that "older adults who volunteer and who engage in more hours of volunteering report higher levels of well-being."

According to the study, the positive impact of volunteer work on retirees appears to occur regardless of the type of volunteer work, the "perceived benefit to others," or the race or gender of the volunteer.

The Bottom Line
"Community commitments, especially formal participation, help enhance our sense of identity, promote on-going networks of social relationships and foster expectations of what to do when we wake up in the morning, much like paid work," said Phyllis Moen, the director of the Bronfenbrenner Life Course Center at Cornell University told participants at a forum. "Except volunteering has one huge advantage over paid work: you can quit if you don't like it," she said.

Related Articles
  1. Professionals

    Accounting Research Manager: Job Description & Average Salary

    Learn about the average salary of an accounting research manager as well as the necessary skills, experience and education, and licenses to hold this position.
  2. Professionals

    Common Interview Questions for e-Marketing Specialists

    Identify the questions most likely to be asked in e-marketing specialist interviews, and learn the best responses to set yourself apart from the competition.
  3. Professionals

    Data Integrity Analyst: Job Description & Average Salary

    Learn about the average salary of a data integrity analyst and the required skills, education and previous experience needed to fill this role.
  4. Professionals

    Common Interview Questions for Commercial Real Estate Agents

    Identify some of the common questions asked at commercial real estate agent job interviews, and learn how to formulate winning answers.
  5. Professionals

    Internal Auditor: Career Path & Qualifications

    Find out what kind of work internal auditors do in large organizations, and learn more about how to get started working in the field.
  6. Professionals

    Common Interview Questions for Bank Tellers

    Discover some of the most common questions asked of applicants for bank teller positions and the best answers with which applicants can respond.
  7. Professionals

    Project Manager: Career Path & Qualifications

    Learn more about what project managers job, the qualifications necessary for the position and the most common careers for these professionals.
  8. Professionals

    How To Hire and Retain An Overqualified Candidate

    Understand how to hire and retain overqualified candidates by proactively seeking them out, discerning their motivations and then offering what they want.
  9. Financial Advisors

    Becoming an Advisor: Why You Should Shadow a Pro

    Meeting with financial advisors and following them during a workday will help you to know if it’s worth the time and effort to make the career switch.
  10. Personal Finance

    Is An Ivy League Degree Worth It?

    In 600 B.C. Aesop determined that a bird in the hand was worth two in the bush. Warren Buffett claims that this axiom can be used to determine the most valuable uses of capital. In this article ...
  1. Does a financial advisor need an MBA?

    Obtaining a license as a financial adviser does not require an Master's of Business Administration (MBA) degree. The Certified ... Read Full Answer >>
  2. Student loans, federal and private: what's the difference?

    The cost of a college education now rivals many home prices, making student loans a huge debt that many young people face ... Read Full Answer >>
  3. How can an investment banker switch to a career in corporate finance?

    It's pretty easy for an investment banker to switch to a career in corporate finance. The career skills are easily transferable, ... Read Full Answer >>
  4. How do I get started with a career in asset management?

    The asset management industry has a variety of different career paths. Depending on what asset management area you would ... Read Full Answer >>
  5. For which kind of jobs is having Magnum Cum Laude most important?

    Having a magna cum laude degree is most important for jobs in the fields of finance, management consulting and engineering. ... Read Full Answer >>
  6. Other than accounting, what does a corporate finance job involve?

    While a corporate finance job almost always involves accounting in some capacity, there are many additional job duties and ... Read Full Answer >>

You May Also Like

Hot Definitions
  1. Bar Chart

    A style of chart used by some technical analysts, on which, as illustrated below, the top of the vertical line indicates ...
  2. Bullish Engulfing Pattern

    A chart pattern that forms when a small black candlestick is followed by a large white candlestick that completely eclipses ...
  3. Cyber Monday

    An expression used in online retailing to describe the Monday following U.S. Thanksgiving weekend. Cyber Monday is generally ...
  4. Take A Bath

    A slang term referring to the situation of an investor who has experienced a large loss from an investment or speculative ...
Trading Center