Volunteering In Public Health Could Help You Get A Job. Here’s Why and How!

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If you are pursuing a career in Public Health, or simply considering it as your next course of study, think about volunteering as your way into the industry.

A career in Public Health will not only equip you with the tools and resources needed to positively affect people around you, but it will also provide you with a varied skill set that will suitably complement your resume.

According to Economic News Release from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 16 million new positions will be a part of the healthcare industry by 2022. And that leads to the logical conclusion that Public Health positions will see consistent growth through the next decade and beyond.

How Volunteering Can Help You Get a Job in Public Health

People usually volunteer to fulfill their desire to feel good and the motivation is purely selfless. However, for many, there are underlying reasons that fuel their wish to volunteer. They might be looking for new challenges to get busy with or feel like they are contributing to their surroundings as well as the world at large.

Students have another dilemma that can be solved by volunteering at the right avenues. They are usually required to log a given number of volunteer hours before they can be considered for a rigorous program of study. On the other hand, many study programs must also be complemented with the necessary experience before students can be considered for a job in the industry.

All in all, volunteering has been shown to deliver benefits on a personal as well as professional level.

Similarly, volunteering can benefit those interested in building a career in Public Health. In addition to gaining invaluable social skills and improved social recognition abilities, volunteering also adds to the resume of Public Health aspirants. In fact, research from the Corporation for National and Community Services reveals that volunteers are 27% more likely to land a job than non-volunteers with similar qualifications.

Volunteering is a great way to earn some experience before starting the job hunt. And it looks great on the resume too.

The Public Health industry requires long-term commitment as well as a penchant for public service and empathy. Volunteering offers a chance to ‘test drive’ a career in the industry while also getting an in-depth understanding of, and the opportunity to develop, the necessary job-related skills. Volunteering presents a good opportunity to network with workplace and community leaders and develops the necessary qualities to build a career in the public health industry.

Holes in the timeline of a resume are never a good idea for anyone pursuing a serious career in Public Health. However, great job opportunities aren’t always easy to come by. Volunteering is a great way to fill up those holes while showcasing your commitment to your community. A resume that showcases considerable experience within the industry is hard to ignore, whether the experience is paid or not. It speaks volumes about the applicant’s commitment to productivity but also brings to light the drive for using their time fruitfully.

And finally, volunteering can give you a fighting chance at coveted industry positions, which can be hard to secure otherwise. It can be an entry point to an otherwise hard to get into position. It can help you get an internship, and introduce you to public health professionals who can help you advance your career in the same industry.

How to Find the Right Volunteering Opportunity in Public Health

Just like the job search, looking for a suitable volunteering opportunity should command a lot of foresight and due diligence. After all, your time is valuable. An ill-fitting volunteer position will just waste your time, energy and faculties, all which could have been better spent elsewhere.

Remember, if an opportunity looks great on paper, doesn’t make it amazing in real life as well. So it’s a good idea to investigate whatever Public Health volunteer opportunities come your way. And keep in mind that just because you are volunteering your time, it is no excuse to limit yourself to a single type of work. Here are a few things to consider when weighing a community service program:

  • Do you clearly understand what will be expected of you in the capacity of a public health volunteer?
  • How much time will you need to commit every week?
  • Have you visited a number of different hospitals, clinics, and healthcare organizations to explore all the opportunities available?
  • Did you talk to the available staff and employees to see if you would be a good fit in a specific workplace culture?
  • Did you ask questions to ensure that your goals, skills and time will all find a place there?
  • Is it a place where you learn new things about public health while serving the humanity at the same time?

Volunteering is the easiest possible way to leave a positive impact on your local community while also ensuring that your studies and career advancement in public health remain uninterrupted. Here are several volunteering avenues you should check out in your area:

Local Hospitals: There is no shortage of work in a hospital and additional help is always welcome. As a public health volunteer, you could be asked to perform a number of duties, for instance, providing assistance to senior public health practitioners.

Hospices: Here, volunteers are expected to provide at least 5% of patient care hours. And there is absolutely no shortage of volunteer work at hospices. However, know that working here can be a very emotional and heart-breaking experience because you will get to witness quite a lot of pain and suffering around. You may head to the National Hospice Foundation to learn more about the opportunities available in your area.

Children’s Organizations: Volunteers are often required to work as mentors who can make tons of difference in a child’s future. Children’s organizations will carry out a strict background check. And if you ace it, they will offer you some amazing volunteer work that will make a huge difference in someone’s life, while also improving your CV significantly.

Local Shelters: Volunteers are the lifeline of a well-run shelter. As someone interested in Public Health, you will get considerable experience and insights by working with donations, food prep, and the administrative tasks associated with shelter operations. For more information, check out the Homeless Shelter Directories.

Local Schools: Schools are understaffed, and that leads a lot of work for volunteers. And there is quite a lot of scope to school volunteer work as well. From reading to children to helping with lessons in the classroom, you will be doing a lot. As expected, there is a strict background check before you might be allowed to volunteer with children.

Be the ‘Meals on Wheels’ Person: Volunteer drivers are often needed to take hot, nutritious meals to the lonely and the aged in your locality. This is a very rewarding volunteer opportunity.

Animal Shelters: If your passion is to work with animals, the local shelter might be looking for someone to help with the everyday tasks. From walking the dogs to helping the doctor sedate the animals, a lot will be expected of you. Be ready to deliver spectacularly.

The Highway: Visit your state’s ‘Department of Transportation’ website to check out if they are looking for volunteers. Or better yet, adopt a highway in your area and volunteer your time to keep it clean. Plant flowers and trees. And help your state look great all year round!

What’s Next

The Public Health industry has benefited greatly from the drive and dedication of volunteers. Public health professionals are a vital part of the equation, helping care providers and local bodies fulfill their missions. It is important to remember that volunteerism in the Public Health arena is more than the time and expertise devoted by doctors and nurses for free. You don’t need to be a medical services provider to make a difference in someone’s life.

If you want to contribute to your locality and the world around you at large, while also benefitting your studies as well as resume, volunteering is the way to go!

Written by Robert Sanchez
Robert Sanchez is HealthGrad.com's Chief Editorialist. Robert Sanchez has over 10 years experience in the Healthcare field and more recently has become an avid writer advising on career and job topics in this exciting field.

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