I wrote my last exam and officially ended my sophomore year in Public Relations program last Thursday. It has been a successful year. I’ve learned and grown so much compared to the freshman year. Also, congratulate everybody on a great school year. You guys have done a good job, too! 🙂
Back to the main topic, “Volunteering,” undeniably, as university students, we all need money and spend most of our time on paid job(s) after school to fight against the economic downturn and maintain our living standard rather than on unpaid jobs. “Volunteering” is suddenly no longer part of our life :-(. However, five reasons below will show you why it’s worth investing time in volunteering ;).
Before we start, I want you to have a clear definition of “VOLUNTEERING”.
Volunteering is to actively offer your service to help other people/ organization/ etc. without being asked and being paid.
It means you are willing to take an initiative to help other people with a truly altruistic intention. I understand that some people “have to volunteer” to fulfill their volunteering hours for school and/or work. For example, in our program, we have to complete 150 hours of volunteering for public-relations related jobs to be able to apply for an internship semester after the third year. Some people volunteer just to fulfill their hours or to make resume look better, or in other words, volunteering, in those situations, is similar to an assignment they need to get it done to satisfy THEIR NEEDS. When you don’t have a clear mindset about volunteering, you will
- Not fully see its values
- Never enjoy volunteering as much as you should, and never feel “wow, volunteering is great” (like me)
- Not feel mentally and physically good
- Easily break your commitment to the job/ activity/ event. Because it’s a volunteering job, people cannot expect that you have to come to volunteer. You allow yourself to make an excuse, for example, “well, today I don’t want to go so I won’t go.”
1. VOLUNTEERING IS GOOD FOR YOUR MENTAL AND PHYSICAL HEALTH
Frankly, there hasn’t been any official research that volunteering is good for your mental and physical health. A study in Health Psychology showed the powerful social interactions on health and the conclusion that people who volunteer to help other people regularly with a right reason will live longer than people don’t volunteer. But it came across many implications as volunteering jobs are very various in terms of activities and purposes.
However, volunteering is a form of giving, and it will definitely boost your mood and make you feel happier due to the release of endorphins creating what’s known as the “helper’s high” in the reward center in the brain. Your brain will experience a feeling of satisfaction and the delight of gift-giving which increases your self-esteem, reduces your stress level, lower your blood pressure and make you feel happier. Yay!
2. VOLUNTEERING MAKES YOU FEEL LIFE MORE MEANINGFUL AND PURPOSEFUL FOR YOURSELF AND SOCIETY
How do you feel when someone sends you a thank-you note because you inspired him/ her, for example, to quit cigarettes and live a healthy life? How do you feel when the event that you were involved was so successful that everyone talked about it, and its news was on all over the social media and newspapers? How do you feel when animals at the shelter are growing strongly and becoming happier after a long time being bullied and afraid of people?
I’m sure that you will feel very proud of yourself that you’ve made a difference, changed people’s lives and/ or contributed to a successful event. Every contribution should be counted regardless of how big or small it is or how many people you’ve helped.
Let’s get an example. I often volunteer for the Office of Student Success on campus, where my main responsibility is to support students and help students succeed in the university. This semester, we had some students come because they needed help for their mental issues. Some of them came to the office and burst into tears. Their academic results considerably dropped, they stressed out and intended to withdraw classes. We tried our best to support them by talking with them, taking them to the Counsellor or linking them available resources on campus. A few months later, we got a thank-you email saying thanks to our help, they got on Dean’s list, they were recovering from the mental issues and feeling much better. We felt very delighted and wanted to do more to help more students. Also, those students, themselves, wanted to share their experiences to help other people because they were people who understood most how depressing the period of time they had experienced was and did not want anybody to go through the same. Not only did we help those students feel more confident in themselves, but we were also a part of the university to 1) reduce the withdrawal rate and 2) make students truly feel like “Mount Royal University is where they belong to.”
For me, when I’m around those students, I feel very thankful that my parents and friends are always there for me when I need. I’ve learned to appreciate small little things and treasure the values of life more.
Volunteering gives you and me a great sense of purpose. We have the rights to choose the cause we’re passionate about to volunteer, and voluntarily advocate for that. If you like arts and history, volunteer for museums and art galleries. If you like animals, volunteer for animal shelters. If you like reading, volunteer for a public library in the city, etc. There are so many places that you can volunteer for. They always need and appreciate your help.
Volunteering has many benefits for everybody: volunteers, people who get helps, and the society. We can all make the world better by joining non-profit organizations and volunteering!
I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples. – Mother Teresa
3. VOLUNTEERING ESTABLISHES SOCIAL RELATIONSHIPS
Volunteering means that you can make friends with many people who have the same ideals and interests as yours. 🙂 Your conversations will be more natural and easily will become friends with each other.
Online conversations can help you maintain the relationship but it won’t be useful to establish and develop a long-lasting relationship with people. By going out, volunteering, and face-to-face interacting with people, you will get exposed to a variety of people in different situations, extend your networking and improve your communication skills. Along the way, you will learn and know who should be the people you want to make friends with and can create a reciprocal relationship with.
For people who are looking for jobs, volunteering is absolutely where you should go to find potential connections with people in your field. Finding events or organizations that are related to your industry, you will have great chances to meet and talk with professionals and have them share their experiences and insights in the career. It would be even better if you can ask them for a coffee after volunteering so you can have more time to chat with them. 😉
4. VOLUNTEERING IS A HUGE LEARNING OPPORTUNITY FOR YOU TAKE ADVANTAGE OF
This semester, in both of my classes, Media Relations and Computer-Mediated Communication, my instructors invited many guest speakers who have been working in the field of Public Relations/ Communications industry to come and share with us their experience. Next summer (2018), my class will head out there and look for internship opportunities, one question we asked all of them was “Which qualities/ experiences are you looking for at an intern, because to be honest, we do not have a lot of work experience?”- and the answer is #VOLUNTEERINGGGGGGGGGG!
Some people might think that volunteering is boring and you don’t learn anything because you sometimes literally just sit there at the media desk, or create a list of media that you literally copy and paste from the Internet. If you’re reading here and feel exactly what I’m writing, please come back to the beginning, reread and refresh your mind about the definition of “volunteering” because sometimes, I had the same feeling, to be honest. Remember, when you do something actively and proactively and do something with an open mind and heart, you will always find something interesting to you.
Over the weekend, I had a great opportunity to volunteer with Calgary Comic and Entertainment Expo for the media team. There were many little duties for the media team, needless to say. I helped them at the media desk where the media came and checked out. I, also, shadowed people to tap out the media when they do the scrum, interview with popular cosplayers, and get the footage in the panel between Stan Lee and Todd McFarlane! Yes, the jobs were very easy. Sometimes, I just followed them and watched them talking with the celebrities. But for me, it was truly a great learning opportunity. I paid a great attention to little things such as how they managed the jobs, how they talked with the media, how they communicated with each other within the media team and with other media outlet, how they set rules and policies for the team, etc. The team worked very well with each other even though the team had only less than 10 members including volunteers and there were so many panels and acitivties happening at the same time in a fast-paced environment. They worked under pressure all the time and felt exhausted towards the end of the expo, but all of the main team members, Alex, Kimberly, Brie and Jessica, looked very enthusiastic and energetic. Again, you’ll always find many things that you can learn you are open to looking at the opportunity in many different angles.
5. VOLUNTEERING IS ATTENDING THE EVENT FOR FREEEEEEEEEEE
Yassssss, while people have to pay at least $40.00 to attend the expo and come to the panel, I attend it for free :), which is the perk of volunteering.
I was in the panel between Stan Lee and Todd McFarlane! I was super excited because I was very close to him. The day before, I even was in the press room when he was having an interview. Omg! My heart just wanted to bump out! I stood right in front of the stage, and the only word I could say “wow”!!! I would have never had this opportunity if I didn’t volunteer with them.
Due to the technical issue, I cannot upload the video here. So please see this picture instead.
I hope you guys found my blog post useful.
Thank you so much for reading till here. See you next time. 🙂
Photo: Internet source 🙂