Why you should volunteer now - seriously

By Kelvin Chung

Do these words sound all too familiar in Singapore when someone is asked to be a volunteer or take up a voluntary assignment?

  • No time!
  • I got too much work to do!
  • I would rather spend the time on something else.
  • What would I get out of it?

Those were my replies too some years back when someone approached me for a voluntary assignment.

Nevertheless, after several attempts at it, I began to see the intangible benefits that it has brought to me as a working professional.

On the personal side of things, I had seen things in life which I could never have experienced it myself.

And these are the few things which I have learned from my volunteering experience:

1. Away from work pressures and stress
Volunteering gives you a great opportunity to unwind and not to think about the pressures and problems which you may be encountering; be it at work or personal life, at least for that particular moment.

It may also provide you with different insights and perspectives which may in turn change your outlook and perspectives about a particular issue or problem which you are facing.

2. Management
Very often, organizations needing volunteers are short on monetary funding and lacking in manpower. Depending on the level of jobs assigned and the background of the organizations you are volunteering at, many a times, it requires you to multi task in terms of project, financial, time and peoples’ management etc.

3. Transferable skillsets
This can be linked back to the above point 2 and apply the mentioned skillsets at your workplace, thus value adding your profile and job performance.

4. Expansion of networks
As volunteers come from all walks of life, you may not know who is/are the next persons working side by side with you on a particular assignment. It can be a CEO, HR Director, Headhunter or a valuable contact whom you can leverage in your business activity. Whoever it may be, having more friends in your circle of life will not hurt.

5. Last but not least and perhaps the most important aspect- polishing the art of office

I sat on the management committee at one of the not for profit organizations. I am surprised at the level of politics, power struggle and backstabbing considering that it is only a voluntary post without any actual monetary benefits or glamour attached to it.

I toe my lines along and managed to survive the onslaughts. This can be very useful in your day to day dealings with your management, superiors, colleagues and business associates. Let’s face the facts; politics are part and parcel of work. The only difference is the level of it and how much you are being caught at it.

Ultimately, it is really a perception on how you view your voluntary assignment. Whether you do it based entirely on passion or for other intangible motives, enjoy it, use your volunteer experience to your advantage and use it well.

*The views expressed above are my mine and not those of my company.

Kelvin Chung, Project Manager, Informa plc | kelvinchung80@gmail.com

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