Volunteers and Professional careers

img_0634minAlthough I believe that lately volunteering has gained some importance in the professional world, I think that is still not valued as it should be.

First of all, the sort of person that decides to volunteer tends to do so, at least in part, as the result of a critical attitude towards reality. This person not only realizes that there are things that should be changed, but also takes action to change them.

Furthermore, by choosing to be an international volunteer, a person shows the ability to make decisions that imply big changes in their environment and lifestyle.

So, we have strong individuals with determination and critical thinking skills.

But that’s only the beginning of the process.

Working in the social sector with at-risk groups requires that the individuals develop a series of social skills, and then that they raise these skills to a level of excellence. Skills such as overcoming frustration, conflict resolution and ability to empathize will be needed when working in situations of social exclusion, poverty, vulnerability or abuse.

For this reason in and of itself volunteering should be considered a valuable and relevant experience by professional recruiters. Furthermore, working in a small nonprofit will require that the volunteer be part of administration processes, which can range from accounting to project management.

For example, here in VEGlobal, our volunteers are part of the management structure, and they will be creating and developing projects.  Others, depending on their experience and skills, will be coordinating and leading volunteers, projects, or even areas such as marketing or resources.

All this, I believe, can be an important opportunity for anyone’s career, and not only for those interested in social sciences. The inter-disciplinary approach used in many small non-profits can be applied to a wide variety of professional fields.

People who have volunteered have a special training – and a unique perspective – that should be valued in professional recruitment, and I think we will see this trend increasing, even in corporations. Perhaps this will even be reflected in an increase in corporate volunteer programs.


  1. I think the same should be said for post-graduate university admissions, though I imagine that they are already giving a greater deal of significance to volunteering than the corporate world. It is even becoming an increasing trend the US for high school graduates take a “gap year” before starting their undergrad education, something that was has traditionally been associated with college graduates — which I think is a great way for young people to assemble a more nuanced perspective that can then be applied to their studies.

  2. When people think about volunteering, it is normally thought of as either a gap year market or helping build a house or teaching in some remote village. However, I have recently learnt that there are far greater depths to the volunteering industry. The recession I believe has really thrown light on the opportunities that professional volunteering can bring to an individual, in terms of, developing personal and professional experiences. One such charity I have come across in this field is a charity called Challenges Worldwide, who aim to help strengethen social businesses in emerging economies through utilising the skills of volunteer professionals.

  3. Have you ever considered writing an ebook or guest authoring on other websites?
    I have a blog centered on the same ideas you discuss
    and would love to have you share some stories/information.
    I know my audience would value your work. If you’re even remotely interested, feel free to send me an e-mail.

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