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5 reasons beyond the CV to volunteer

Sometimes, one of the hardest things to do as a volunteer is to find more volunteers to share the work load. Some places are more prestigious, and can offer volunteers a line on their resume as well as a chance to give back to the community, but others are not so lucky. The first place I volunteered was through Purdue University, and it gave me networking, something to do, and a line on my CV. There was a shortage of people with spare time, but professors could easily hang it over our heads to volunteer, so we'd go.

The second place I volunteered is a very tiny, hands-on science museum called Imagination Station. When I first started, it was the president, his wife, and a couple of people from the board showing up two days a week. However, working with this small team showed me some of the benefits of volunteering that can't go on your resume:

1. Experience/Knowledge

OK, so this goes with the CV, but did you know that you can accumulate a lot of examples of things you can do for the ever-dreaded interview during volunteer work? How about learning a new skill you wouldn't otherwise have used in class, labs, or even in your daily job? I learned how to balance books, write and dole out grants, market, advertise, and essentially run a business while volunteering. I can put all those things little details as skills on my CV, and not just as fluff—I really can write a successful business grant!

2. Networking/Friendships

You'll see a bunch of people every time you spend your time at wherever you volunteer. During that time, you'll be a colleague in the same field, a co-worker trying to make a business run, and hopefully a friend to those you work with as well as those you serve. Many times these friendships are temporary, but the impressions and lines of networking can stay in place for years to come. They can open up doors into areas you might not think of for years to come.

3. Satisfaction/self-esteem

We all would like more self confidence, right? There have been several studies looking at how self-esteem and volunteering are related. A social studies research study out of Vanderbuilt University shows that volunteering can counter stress, which we could all use. Dr. Carol, a self-esteem coach for teens and young women, concurs and goes on to state that it can help to build stronger relationships and fosters a desire to move past their comfort zones.

4. Improved health

Often times, with improved relationships and a strong sense of self, comes better health. It should be no surprise then that a recent study shows that volunteering, especially among teens, can lower cholesterol, reduce inflammation, and even lower body mass index.

5. A chance to make your mark

Volunteering is a chance to get out of your comfort zone. You can come up with a new way to teach something, a new idea, and maybe even find a new discovery while playing with people in your community. The sky is the limit when it comes to what you're willing to pursue while you explore outside the box.

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