The Importance of Volunteering Outside of Work

Contributed by Susanna Hoskins, Supervising Producer, RIVR Media

Even though many of us love our jobs, working in TV can sometimes feel like it might not be the most rewarding thing in the world—for our hearts and souls. In that, we (usually) aren’t giving to the poor, feeding the hungry, or aiding the sick in our day-to-day work lives. We also might not get as many opportunities at work to hone our leadership skills or utilize our “hidden” strengths. We are not just our jobs. These are all reasons that I think volunteering outside of work is vital to our personal fulfillment, our mental/emotional wellbeing, and developing our leadership skills.

When I find myself hoping for something unfortunate and dramatic to happen to perfectly nice people so I can have a cliffhanging “bump-out” to commercial, I tend to feel slightly shallow or even malicious. I don’t actually want anything truly harmful to occur to any talent on any show, of course. But there is that hope, whether we as reality TV producers admit it or not, that something interesting will happen, to create an amusing show that will hold an audience for the full 22 or 44 minutes. So I need to put some good karma out there into the world. I choose to do this by volunteering!

Another great reason to volunteer is to develop or enhance leadership skills and have experiences that you might not get at work. Volunteering takes initiative. Since it’s not “required,” it takes the enterprise to even offer to help with an organization in the first place. What else can you gain from volunteering?

  • You can learn useful skills like organization, responsibility, & leadership.
  • You can practice event planning, public speaking, managing, and budgeting.
  • You get to work with others, use teamwork, and learn to delegate tasks.

“Where do I volunteer?” you ask. Maybe it’s following your passions and searching for local groups that affect issues you care about, or maybe it’s reaching out to your company to see what organizations they may be connected with.

For me, volunteering my time at a local nonprofit, The Junior League of Knoxville, makes me feel like a better, nicer, more helpful human being. I get to directly help less fortunate Knoxvillians and actually feel like I’m making a difference. We do things like donate clothes to women at the YWCA and the Helen Ross McNabb Center. It also allows me to meet people and even make friends outside of work. In fact, one of the bridesmaids at my wedding was actually a girl I met at the JLK.

Plus, as the prior chair of both the Social Media and Spring Fundraiser Event Committees, I’ve gained experience with communication, event planning, cold calling to ask local businesses for donations, delegating tasks to fellow committee members, and leadership – skills I couldn’t have gained with my current role. With my social media experience at JLK, I was able to become “social media manager” at my company. So volunteering can definitely positively affect your career.

Do you want to take your career to the next level through community volunteer opportunities? Discover tips on how you can build new skills and have great experiences by checking out the “Own Your Project: Creating Leadership Opportunities” webinar, presented by WICT Southeast, WICT Greater Memphis-Jackson and Comcast.