One of my favorite questions to ask at networking events in Indianapolis is “Where are you volunteering?” Unlike “What do you do” which doesn’t always go that well, “Where are you volunteering” gives people a chance to talk about their passions.
But there’s only one downside. Sometimes, people aren’t volunteering anywhere.
© Flickr User Daniel Thornton
I don’t have to tell you all of the advantages of volunteering. You help out your community. You provide additional labor to causes you care about. You have the chance to learn new skills. You meet interesting people. It can relieve stress and improve your health. Volunteering can even increase your chances of winning the lottery (okay not really.)
But there’s a big reason to volunteer whether you’re working or looking for work: it gives you something else to talk about in your professional career.
There is a problem though, which is that it’s hard to know where to start if you want to volunteer. The State of Indiana does have a department called Serve Indiana and an associated commission of leaders in community service. But there’s no single enormous directory of volunteer opportunities.
A good place to start, however, is with the United Way of Central Indiana. There are hundreds of opportunities associated with their partner agencies. You can also use any of the national websites, such as VolunteerMatch.
But the best thing to do is to pick up the phone and start calling organizations you’ve heard of to ask them if they need help. Or post online and ask your friends who they know who needs volunteers.
No matter what you do, start volunteering. It’s great for your job search, and great for professional conversations.
And try asking, “Where are you volunteering?” Because now, you too have an answer.