Want to Enhance Your Professional Skills and Gain a Dash of Holiday Cheer? Volunteer!

I don’t know your specific story—whether you’re desperately seeking employment or eagerly seeking advancement in your career field—but I firmly believe this counsel applies to us all, regardless of current employment status.

The majority of us will have extra time in our schedules come mid to late December, and I think it’s important to decide beforehand how this time will be spent. Of course, plan a few days of rest (self-care and stress management are imperative), visit family and friends (heed these holiday travel tips), and my hope is that you’ll also consider and begin planning for a volunteer opportunity.

Here’s why I think we should take advantage of the holiday season to volunteer:

  • Take a head-on look at depression and suicidal thoughts in persons with visual impairments. To combat the increased likelihood of depression in individuals who are blind or visually impaired, it’s important to get out of the home when more likely to feel lonely, make connections within the community, and take the focus off of self by serving others. Talk about acquiring some holiday cheer!
  • I did just mention taking the focus off of ourselves, but the funny thing is volunteering also gives us an edge in self-awareness, especially so in the context of work. As we volunteer, we receive the benefit of recognizing job duty interests, personal weaknesses or limitations, strengths, work values, and personal work-related boundaries.
  • We have the opportunity to wrestle with job accommodation questions or issues in a low-risk environment. As we’re not getting paid for the job, it’s a bit more comfortable to take the time to determine necessary accommodations and practice their use.
  • While many people utilize LinkedIn to seek employment, I suggest we use it to find local or even virtual volunteer work. We’re practicing networking skills and use of LinkedIn, and who knows, these skills may lead to a future job.
  • Whether or not you’re currently employed, you may be asking yourself, "What even is the right career for me?" Volunteering can give insight and experience into different career fields, which helps answer the looming question.
  • We previously discussed "Rethinking Leadership: You Already Are a Leader", and we learned a leader is one who makes an impact on others. If you’re looking to rehearse those leadership skills, volunteer work can be an ideal place to gain confidence.
  • If you’re looking to improve your resume, pursue volunteer work that prepares you for specific job roles or tasks.
  • We are building relationships—obviously, friendships are valuable but keep in mind the possibility of making potential connections that lead to work.

There you have it. I think it’s easy to see volunteering is mutually beneficial and well worth the investment in time. Remember, it’s important to begin searching for a volunteer position well before the holiday season.

Volunteer Resources for Individuals with Vision Loss

Work-Related Benefits of Volunteering for Job-Seekers Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired

Finding Volunteer Positions as an Individual Who Is Blind or Visually Impaired

The Secrets to Turning Your Volunteer Job Into Paid Work for Job Seekers Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired

Volunteering: Lesson Plan for Teachers and Transition Specialists