There are many groups that seek volunteers to assist their staff members, and volunteering can be very rewarding on many levels. Individuals specifically interested in animal careers can benefit greatly from volunteering their time to shelters, rescues, zoos, and many other animal-related organizations. Here are eight of the best reasons to become a volunteer:
Gain Insight Into a Field of Interest
Volunteering allows you to learn about a career path without the added pressure you would feel as a new employee. You also may have more chances to learn about more varied aspects of the career while volunteering, instead of being relegated to typical new employee “grunt work” as is so often the case with new hires.
Develop Valuable Practical Skills
Volunteer activities help you to gain hands-on experience and learn new skills. A volunteering position is a great way to develop a skill set that you need for a potential career change or promotion. For instance, if you wanted to work in fundraising you might consider assisting with such activities for an animal charity or a zoo development program. If you need to learn basic veterinary and first aid skills you might consider volunteering with a vet clinic or a wildlife rescue group.
Position Yourself to Obtain a Paying Job in the Future
Getting your foot in the door with a volunteer position can open the door to many job opportunities. You will develop a good reputation by volunteering and potentially even be offered jobs that have not yet been advertised to the public. Some rescue groups and charities do have paid staff positions that open up from time to time, or they might have leads on paying jobs with other organizations that are looking for someone with your skill set.
Build a Network of Professional Contacts
Volunteer work can be an excellent way to network and interact with professionals in a field that interests you. You can utilize this network for getting job references, finding out about new potential job openings, writing letters of recommendation (particularly important for veterinary students), and introducing you to an ever-widening group of animal professionals.
Make New Friends
Volunteering in an animal related industry means you have the chance to make friends of both the human and animal varieties. You will have the chance to work alongside other animal lovers who share similar interests and are united with you in the pursuit of a common cause. You will meet people outside of your usual circle that you might never have had the chance to interact with otherwise. There are many social benefits related to volunteer work.
Strengthen the Community
Volunteer organizations connect people and build positive relationships within the community. These groups are good for society and raise awareness of important causes.
Improve Your Resume
The additional experience and skills you gain as a volunteer can certainly be included on your resume, and in fact, they can be a big plus. It is unfortunate that many people believe that only paying positions can be included on a resume—this is absolutely not the case at all. Be sure you are including all positions on your resume, even those that are unpaid if they are relevant in any way to the career you are seeking. You may not be gaining financial compensation for your volunteer work, but you are gaining skills and experience that should be highlighted.
Have Fun While Doing Something Good
Volunteering allows you to make a difference while surrounding yourself with others who are enthusiastic about the cause. You have the opportunity to do something that interests you and that you find fulfilling. Volunteering should really be a lot of fun. If it isn’t fun, you haven’t found the right volunteer opportunity yet.