MSEJ July 2016 - Page 20

Make Volunteering Work for You

By: Jamie Boyle

As military spouses prepare for their next PCS, they also speculate about the job prospects at their next location. Despite their skills, knowledge, and abilities, they know their options may be limited, and that someone will undoubtedly encourage them to volunteer as an alternative. These casual recommendations to volunteer can be frustrating for spouses who want to work toward their own career goals. While you can expand your skills and learn from any opportunity, all volunteer options aren’t created equally. When you’re volunteering your time without compensation, it’s important that the opportunity is mutually beneficial to you and the organization.

Before you commit to any volunteer position, make sure to define what motivates you. If you are looking for a way to fill your time or to give back to a community, move forward and accept the volunteer position that best fills those desires. But if you are looking to leverage a job opportunity or develop professional skills to build your résumé, you need to be selective when considering volunteer positions so that you can negotiate and make sure you are getting what you need out of the opportunity. To truly volunteer for your career, make sure you:

-Identify opportunities that align with your career goals. While this recommendation may seem obvious, it's important to seek out opportunities that match what you want to be doing if you hope to turn your volunteerism into a job. I love animals, but being a volunteer dog walker (I’ve done this) won’t give me the