Someone once described the differences in attitude towards work between someone from BC versus someone from Ontario with a question. They said that when you ask someone BC what they do they say “I am a ” in Ontario they say “I am a ”.
They have a very good point and valid observations. However like a lot of trends, there are exceptions. In that regard I am an exception. If you ask me what I do I will tell you what I am professional but I will also tell you all the organizations I am passionate about and volunteer with.
So now you ask what does this have to do with professional growth?
The first and foremost reason I volunteer is because helping other makes me feel good. When you are happy you are a better worker.
When you volunteer you meet and interact with people outside your workplace. We spend a lot of time at our jobs and often our job becomes our identity. It is also only natural that our judgments becomes coloured by the environment we work in. When you volunteer you are exposed to different view points and you learn to see challenges in different ways.
It helps you develop better soft skills. At work you have co-workers. You are all paid to work together to achieve a common goal. No one enjoys working with Grumpy Bob or Whining Wendy but people make these situations work. In a volunteer role you are working with people who are doing this for FREE in their spare time. As a result to be successful you must have good soft skills.
You become better with time management. If you are a long term volunteer for anything it is because you have a passion for that organization. However this passion can not impact your career. You must perform your job at a level as if you where not volunteering. This means you have to manage your time efficiently to ensure both roles get done. When you have a passion for something you will find a way to make it work.
You will learn a lot about making lemons into lemonade and become a more positive person. Case in point; I had a really inspirational moment earlier this summer. I volunteer with an outdoor music festival. This year we had rain. I was walking by the stage located at City hall and notice that there was no one there. Disheartened, I ducked into City hall to grab a drink of water. That when I saw a very inspirational sight. The acts instead of being rained out had gone acoustic and where playing in the city hall lobby to a fairly large crowd and the mayor. It was a great sight to see.
Finally, I recommend volunteering because it is also the right thing to do. Volunteers are the backbone of our communities. We would have none of the events that make up a community without volunteers.
So go out and find your passion you will not regret it for a minute.