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Help Someone Else, Help Yourself
Find out how you can use volunteerism as a career-planning tool.
Volunteering allows someone to rise to the level of their competence, not their credentials.
The question is: do you quit your job, and leap into a whole new industry based on an inkling that you might like it? And if you decide to take the plunge, will someone hire you without relevant experience? Should you invest in a graduate degree to make yourself more marketable? But you don't even know if you'll like the industry!
It's true, there's a lot at stake. The situation definitely calls for careful thinking and, ideally, the opportunity to test the waters before you make a big move. That's just what we recommend you do - and you can do it as a volunteer.
On the street or online
There are traditional volunteer opportunities at organizations like the Red Cross or United Way (and smaller, local organizations, as well) for administrative and management volunteers - including fund raisers, public relations and human resources workers, recruiters, and managers for any number of projects, such as disaster relief. Volunteer experiences like these provide a chance to gain skills and learn the details of a job you think you might be interested in.
The Internet makes possible remote, or virtual, volunteering as well, which opens many more doors. For example, someone interested in graphic design can "try it out" by designing a brochure for a non-profit group that's located in another city. Likewise, someone considering a career in accounting could help a non-profit or other agency with bookkeeping, or a would-be software developer can volunteer online to help a school with new computer programs.
Get credentials, without credentials
And don't forget to check with your school's career center for additional guidance.
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