How Volunteering Benefits Your Character and Career

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Millennials starting out in their career are focused on achieving their goals as quickly as possible. While they may have positive intentions, this can be seen by managers as a self-centered mentality that undermines the team's objectives. What if I told you that giving back to your community will make you stand out from your colleagues? I would like to share with you how putting the well being of others before your own self-interest can lead to pleasantly surprising results.

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Whether it has been through church groups or school organizations, I have always been “pushed” to volunteer in my local community. When I was younger, I did so because I knew it would make my parents happy. As I transitioned through college and into the workforce, I saw a greater meaning for what volunteering can do for my own personal growth and development. These positive results can be tied back to the “pay it forward” concept from Lily Hammond’s 1916 book In the Garden of Delight.

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My most recent volunteering has been with the Coalition for the Homeless in New York City. I originally became involved with the organization almost two years ago through a financial advisor that I met during my internship. The Coalition is the nation’s oldest advocacy and direct service organization helping homeless men, women, and children. Volunteers deliver food, clothing, and other essentials to more than 3,500 people in need 365 days a year. It's a humbling and rewarding experience to be able to help others who are less fortunate. Many companies partner with organizations like The Coalition to give back to the community. If you take advantage of these opportunities to show your commitment to the company’s initiatives, you will garner respect & recognition from executives you might not expect. Not to mention, the connections you will make with like-minded individuals striving toward a common goal.

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A U.S. News article How Volunteering Can Save You Money takes personal development a step further. The article outlines how volunteering can actually improve your health, referring to research from the Corporation for National & Community Service, which reports that “those who volunteer have lower mortality rates, greater functional ability, and lower rates of depression later in life.” The article also highlights how volunteering can be the cheapest and most efficient way of making connections for future job prospects, and includes multiple examples of how volunteering can grow your bank account.

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Taking advantage of opportunities to give back can help soothe your busy and stressful schedule. By aligning one’s goals with the intentions of contributing to society, you are able to develop a symbiotic relationship that benefits all parties involved. Having an open-mind as to how your actions can affect your community is the first step in maximizing your success. So hold off on the spring cleaning, and start volunteering now.

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Conor Watkins works in institutional distribution for a top ten asset manager. He previously interned with UBS Wealth Management in Midtown Manhattan & Central Florida. He is a graduate of Florida State University with a B.S. in Applied Economics. He is passionate about the capital markets, soccer, cooking, and volunteering in his community.

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