Last week, we discussed how a second job can boost your career. Today we will look at another type of “second” job: volunteering. This one is unpaid but it can reap equal (if not more) benefits. You will be presented with a number of opportunities as you grow in your career. One of them might be serving on a national or local chapter board for a non-profit organization where you can advance your skills and grow your network.

“Why should I volunteer if I’m not getting paid?”

When presented with the opportunity to be on a non-profit organization’s local chapter board I asked myself the same question. I knew that volunteering would be like having another full or part-time position depending on my role, but after I weighed the pros and cons, the pros won. This amazing opportunity would also allow me to gain a great amount of exposure and experiences that would advance my career and help my community.

After asking other board members I noticed most of them had similar reasons for serving on a board year after year. Below are just a few of them:

  • Enhances your current skills and learn new ones
  • Expands your network
  • Makes an impact and helps the community
  • Increases your personal brand and marketability

Advance Your Skills

As a board member, you will help the organization as well as the communities they serve by helping them achieve their overall mission by using your specific skill set and knowledge. Since many non-profit organizations rely on volunteers to help their organizations keep going, they need people like you who are willing to go above and beyond your everyday job. Your board position does not have to be a job that’s outside your comfort zone. It can be an extension of the things you do in your main job. 

If you are looking for a challenge, you can always choose a role that you have some experience in but you would like to receive more exposure and training in.

Thinking outside the box while serving your role:

  • Most volunteer positions are for a specific term period. For example, the board position I volunteer in is for two years. During your term you can create a new or more efficient process for managing daily or weekly duties.
  • Think past your term. Find a way to create succession-planning documents that will help board members that will have your role in the future.
  • Identify people on your board that you would like to have as mentors. Or see if there are fellow board members you would like to have as mentees.
  • See if the organization offers leadership training or any other type of training that will expand your skills to advance your role as a volunteer.

Grow Your Network

Being a board member allows you to meet and network with numerous people from different industries and backgrounds at a number of companies that you may never have been introduced to before.  Make sure you try to connect with your fellow board members not only in your role capacity but also form a relationship with them outside your volunteer work.  You will be presented with opportunities to attend various events not only for your organization but also other events where you can help bring awareness to people and companies about what the organization does and possibly how they can contribute to the advancement of their mission.  

If you can, try to attend every event and step out of your comfort zone and introduce yourself to as many people as you can; and remember, take a lot of business cards with you.

Volunteering takes up a lot of time but the experiences, knowledge, and connections you will build during your term will be highly beneficial in your career and personal life. You will gain credibility among your peers and community by highlighting your skills. It also gives you several of the most rewarding moments in your career/life. 

Being a board member is something you can be proud of sharing when people ask what you do in your spare time.

Maribel De La Rosa-Rangel is the Director of Strategic Partnerships at, the nation's premier professional networking site and job board for Latinos in the United States, and the Vice President of Communications for ALPFA’s Chicago Chapter, the largest Latino association for business professionals and students. Follow on Twitter @iHispano and on Facebook to stay up-to-date on the latest career tips and job opportunities.


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