Here’s Why IT Professionals Need to Volunteer in the Gig Economy
Giving back to the community is an activity that every citizen should do, at whatever capacity they can. In some cases that involves donating money, but it should also include donating your time. In addition to the core functions of local community groups and charities, independent contractors and freelancers are sometimes asked to volunteer their own professional services. Regardless of what kind of work you do, just a few hours of free work can go a long way in helping a charity or non-profit organization get closer to accomplishing their goals. In addition, there are countless benefits and rewards that can come to you, both personally and professionally.
What Do You Gain from Volunteering?
As selfish as it may feel, every volunteer gets personal gain from putting time into their community, whether or not they recognize it. For example:
- Being involved and doing the right thing brings personal satisfaction.
- Building a better community not only is great for your family but can raise the value of a home.
- It’s an opportunity to meet the “who’s who” in your area, including business owners and politicians.
- It brings new challenges when you feel life is getting dull.
- The change in routine helps to get away from regular life stresses and recharge your batteries.
- You can make new friends and improve your social life.
- It provides an overall perspective on what you have in life, which can make you happier.
How Does Volunteering Help Your Business?
Beyond the personal benefits of volunteering is the professional value that can also come with it. Independent contractors can gain significant traction for their business, by simply finding a cause they love and putting in a few extra hours.
- Networking: Industry events get bland and you start to only see the same people. Volunteering opens you up to a whole new set of professionals from different backgrounds and industries.
- References: Speaking of the people you meet, some of them will make valuable character references and, in some circumstances, can speak to your technical skills as well.
- Maintain Unused Skills: You know that old technology that you barely use anymore because all of your clients have moved on? A charity or non-profit may still be using it. When you volunteer to help with that piece, you keep yourself fresh in case it ever comes up again with clients.
- Work on New Skills Too: The organization where you give time may also be using a tool you haven’t yet tried or one for which you need to build experience before you can sell it. This provides a win-win scenario for both of you!
- Update Soft Skills: A post last month from Brendhan Malone explained why IT professionals need to think beyond technology and also improve business and leadership skills. Volunteering can help polish these abilities.
- Explore Something New: Perhaps you’ve been considering a career change or thinking of changing industries all together. Volunteering is a simple way to test the waters while helping others at the same time.
- Your Resume Will Benefit: We’ve advocated many times that few recruiters care about your Hobbies & Interests in a resume, but volunteering speaks much louder than your thrill for rock collecting. It shows that you’re a well-rounded professional with different experiences.
From helping the less fortunate to caring for animals, everybody can find an organization that speaks to them. As an added bonus to contributions you make in your community, you will improve your life, both personally and professionally. If you’re not volunteering yet, what are you waiting for?