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Volunteer to Change Your Career

find a career you love by giving back

Image titleIn 2005, Steve Jobs told the graduating class at Stanford, “The only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven't found it yet, keep looking. Don't settle." Doing what you love and loving what you do is the dream, but if you're in a job where the reality is less than inspiring, it might be time for a shakeup. To get things started, consider volunteering to explore options for a career transition. It feels good and you'll learn a lot about yourself in the process.

Some of the most successful entrepreneurs and creative leaders of our time found their life's passion through volunteering. The author Gay Talese stepped in to write sports articles for his high school's newspaper and became a famous and innovative writer who established what Tom Wolfe called "The New Journalism". Reed Hastings, the founder of Netflix, spent two years teaching math in Swaziland with the Peace Corps and learned to take risks, an essential trait for entrepreneurs. Diane Rehm, a stay-at-home mom, began volunteering at her local radio station to carve out a little time for herself. Six years later, she had her own national radio show.

Whether your interests lead you to working with animals, serving people, improving the environment, or making your community a better place in countless other ways, you'll connect to new people, gain new skills, and learn where your passion lives.

Here are five ways making a difference in the lives of others will change your life for the better:

  1. Share your skills - In a volunteer position, people in new networks see you in action. What you can do moves from just points on a resume to the real world, and fellow volunteers, staff, and board members can all become advocates for your skills and abilities.
  2. Take a risk - High stakes at the office can stifle a willingness to try out new roles. Volunteering is a great opportunity to try out and develop new talents.
  3. Find mentors - People in volunteer organizations are people who inherently want to "give back", so it won't be difficult to connect with someone who shares your passion and wants to see you succeed.
  4. Improve your resume - Create a more robust profile online by incorporating your volunteer work.
  5. Reawaken your passions and build self-confidence - Most importantly, volunteering encourages soul searching, so you can really identify what matters to you.

Inspired to start searching for your passion? Check out AARP’s Create the Good for finding the perfect volunteer or community service opportunity for you. Give it a try - the life you improve might just be your own!