I’m just starting my professional career and was advised to get involved with volunteer work. I’m wondering if volunteer activities can be a boost to my career in any way?
I am quite ambitious and want to use my free time wisely. Yes, I’d like to do community service work, but might it be smart to wait until later in my career?
Has volunteer work really helped people with their careers?
And congratulations on landing your first professional job. Glad to hear that you are ambitious, and the topic of volunteering as a career asset is a super one!
The answer is YES, YES, YES!! Volunteer work can be a career boost in many ways. Here are four possible benefits of volunteer work:
Ben, I strongly recommend you consider getting involved with volunteer work and weave it into a regular and key part of your life. Get involved! Add new dimensions of impact to your life. The benefits will be many, from a broader professional network, to a more robust social life and to the good feeling that comes from knowing you are making an effort to improve our world.
Go for it, Ben!
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Dear Coach Joan,
The fire might have happened a full year ago, but it continues to impact my life and my work. Our family home burned down, we lost everything, and we’re still dealing with the insurance company and builders, not sure we can even afford to rebuild. Living in temporary housing is another stress in my life.
The problem is that I am not as productive or focused at work as I would like to be. Timing is bad as my supervisor is leaving to retire in a few months. For the past five years I’ve assumed I’d be promoted to his position when he left, but now I’m not so sure. I’m afraid to talk to my manager or HR as they act like the fire was a long time ago, and I’m afraid they would see me as weak and not worthy of the promotion if I tell them I feel distracted and stressed out.
Very concerned and hoping you have some helpful ideas.
I am so sorry for your losses, and I want to assure you that you are not the only one in our community who continues to experience the fallout from the fire. As you know, I am a coach, not a psychologist, but I’ve read that it can take years for some people to fully rebound from a trauma. And in your case, you continue to live in uncertainty, which is very stressful.
I highly recommend that you get outside psychological support. You have strong self awareness, and if you sense that your productivity and focus are impaired, you have a right to be concerned. You do not want to miss out on a strategic career opportunity!
Michelle, please refer to my earlier blog post for information on this topic here.
The good news is that there are professionals who can help you, and you can keep it private from your employer. In fact, in our community we have places like the Jewish Free Clinic that provide services for fire victims just like you! (And as their name suggests, the services can be FREE!) You can also go through your own physician to get a referral, but I would like all readers to know that there are free services available in our community for fire victims.
You might be experiencing anxiety or depression that is sapping your energy and distracting you from your normal focus and performance at work. You might need therapy, medication, stress relief activities, or other things.
You also might find that a professional psychologist can suggest a way for you to work with your employer to give you the time and understanding you need for recovery.
Michelle, you have been a professional for many years and now, through no fault of your own, you are impacted by a mental health problem. It is a valid and real problem, and it can be addressed. Hopefully, you will get the support you need to get your work performance back on track.
Onward in your healing, and hoping to hear that you earn your promotion.
Coach Joan Tabb
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