First off, what is virtual volunteering? Virtual volunteering means either to;
- Employ your skills and deploy them via a digital device, or;
- To work from your home, office or any location that’s convenient for you but not near to the intended audience (population); For instance, if you’re working via a digital device, your service could be writing thank you letters to donors or designing logos for a campaign. If you work from home or office, your service could be knitting sweaters, baking cakes, or providing bookkeeping services. For most people in Kenya the concept of volunteering is a novel idea, more so if it’s virtual. It’s
not a widespread practice and therefore hasn’t received much uptake. But if you stop to think about it, it’s really a brilliant idea. With technology and the new concept of WFH (or wherever is convenient for you), a lot of people can now be active volunteers.
From a teenager who’s a pro with Tik Tok to a housewife who can whip up yummy cakes on request, there are boundless opportunities. And the best part is you’re not confined to borders. You can volunteer for any cause, anywhere in the world. Now comes the million shilling question, how would this improve your career development?
Here are 5 ways that virtual volunteering can prod your career in the right direction.
Let’s face it not everyone is an expert at blowing their trumpet. Some people just need a little spotlight shone on them to blossom. If that’s you, then virtual volunteering could just be the thing for you. Perhaps you’ve got fantastic persuasion skills. But you’ve never had the chance to try them out. If you volunteer as a virtual fundraiser can you imagine the impact you’d have and vice versa? Or, if you’ve got a singing talent and you record soothing tunes for the sick and
elderly. Then, your tunes go viral and you blow up because everyone wants a piece of your music. It may not happen the same exact way, but you get the drift.
- Pro Status:
Once you have exposure in your area of expertise, what do you think will happen next? Of course, your prowess and expertise will be on display. But the thing is, you’ll probably be the first person to have ever virtually volunteered that particular skill hence being the pro at it. Still not sure what this means? Picture this; you’re a whiz at web design and development. You then design an e-commerce solution for low-income traders in Korogocho or Langata. By the time you’re done, you’ll be the pro at that because it’s probably never been done before; it’ll likely become a full-time gig and people will seek you out for that particular service.
- Extensive Portfolio:
Imagine you’ve just left Uni or have just started a new career and you’ve got nothing to show. Yeah, besides your certifications there’s really no proof that you’re the expert you claim to be. Virtual volunteering will give you the opportunity to build an impressive and dynamic portfolio. Case studies from your virtual volunteering projects will definitely place you in a better position to prove that you have the practical experience required for a particular project. Similarly, if you’ve lost your job, this could be the best way to fill out the gaps in your CV.
- Improved Skills:
The more you try something, the better you get at it. So as you share your skills consistently, you’re literally practicing and improving. Who knows you’re probably even discovering new ways of doing things as you go along. There’s also the possibility that you’re also going to acquire new skills. As you become a pro at virtual volunteering you might become adept at writing killer emails, explaining complex details, or any other skill that helps you relay your volunteer work.
- New Connections:
It’s not true that you can only make meaningful connections by meeting people in person. Even virtually you’ll be exposed to new contacts that’ll be instrumental to your career growth. They could be mentors, people with a skill set like yours, potential clients or employers. Your experience will be enriched by their advice and referrals. So, instead of bingeing on Netflix every day or complaining that you’re bored lookout for virtual volunteering opportunities.
There are too many causes in need of virtual volunteers. Plus, you don’t even need to spend endless hours on it. It could be as little as an hour per week or even 2 per month. But the benefits are immense and will have a massive positive impact on your career development. Remember: There are five ways that virtual volunteering can boost your career –exposure, pro status, extensive portfolio, improved skills, and new connections. Finally, volunteering proves your humanity. It means you can give the best of yourself at no charge for the greater good. There’s no valuable referral than that. Not even one from the Pope or Dalai Lama.
Written by Njeri Murage