Volunteering is a triple win—good for the world, good for your soul, and good for your career.
- By far the most common way that people find their way to an Encore career is through volunteering. Often you can find yourself by giving yourself away. So, before we get into any details, I want to just talk about language. There are so many different kinds of words that really mean volunteering. You could serve on a board, you could do pro bono consulting, you can do direct service work where you're working one on one as a mentor or a tutor in a school, you could be an occasional volunteer where you help to serve on a committee and you fundraise for an event and that's a limited time experience.
Or you could be in a really deep ongoing advisory relationship with an organization where you're helping for a long period of time. Any one of these experiences is a way that you could get to know an issue, get to know the people who work on that issue, so building your network and get to know and maybe try out a few different organizations that are working in that space. So, you can see why volunteering is just so incredibly valuable.
That all said, not all volunteering is equal and what I mean by that is just because it's a good idea to help people, it doesn't mean that very organization knows how to use volunteers effectively or that every experience you have will necessarily be a positive experience. So, you kind of have to do your homework here and find organizations that have good volunteer programs that are organized, that probably have volunteer managers or board liaisons or ways that they are working actively to make sure that it is both a good experience for the volunteer and that it's actually an experience that's having impact on the issue that you care about.
So, be discerning when you're deciding where to give your time. So, a couple of tools to keep in mind so that you're finding good volunteer opportunities. The first one is right here, LinkedIn. So, if you start following issues that you care about and organizations that are the leading organizations working on those issues, you will hear about good volunteer opportunities especially if you start showing up at events of these organizations and in that world. Encore, where I work always shares volunteer opportunities, so follow encore.org and especially our Gen-to-Gen Campaign which has very well vetted opportunities especially if you want to work on youth issues and helping young people thrive.
VolunteerMatch is another one of my favorites and you can search VolunteerMatch with your zip code and you can also search for organizations that are seeking people over 50 as volunteers, so they've obviously done some vetting which is really interesting. The final point I want to make is that volunteering isn't only a way to transition into what's next, often it could be the end in and of itself.
- Identify the personally meaning behind the encore movement.
- Discover the essentials involved in exploring the possibilities of an encore career.
- Examine the benefits of volunteerism in a post professional career.
- Break down the positives to sharing your individual story on the business-oriented social media platform Linkedin.
- Identify the important fundamentals in networking and interviewing for an encore career in today’s business market.