Tag Archives: volunteer

Why You Should Volunteer Your Journalism Skills

This post was published on First Draft, the Society of Professional Journalist’s Generation J’s Committee blog: blogs.spjnetwork.org/genj/2016/09/01/volunteer-journalism-skills/


In a society where both new and seasoned journalists are expected to keep up with the digital revolution and competition, feelings of being overwhelmed are commonplace. How are you expected to land a job if:

  1. You just graduated and don’t have any years (or decades) of professional experience, or
  2. The skills required include either a few or ALL of the following: produce videos, manage social media, write stories and blogs, build graphics, build a rocket ship to the moon, etc.

That’s where volunteering for just a few hours a week can save you in more ways than one.

Volunteering Can Help You With Your Career

If you volunteer, you'll have a 27% higher chance of finding employment than those who don't volunteer.
Image from Non-Profit Quarterly.

According to a Forbes article, “The Corporation for National and Community Service, a federal agency that promotes volunteerism, tracked more than 70,000 jobless people between 2002 and 2012 and found that those who volunteered had a 27% better chance of finding a job than those who didn’t.”

My first journalism-related, volunteer experience was with Citiwide Pre-Vocational Center in Washington, DC, which seeks to improve and foster employment opportunities for low-income families in the metro. I had a quick email and phone interview with the founder and became the Social Media and Website Coordinator from 2012 to 2013. While there, I cleaned the website’s HTML and CSS, managed social networks, and designed a new logo for them.

One of my first logo designs I did for Citiwide Pre-Vocational Center as part of my volunteering experience.

Image above: The logo I created for Citiwide Pre-Vocational Center back in 2013, which was one of the first logos I helped design.

Another experience involved volunteering at Fuzzy Faces Refuge in North Carolina, which provides a sanctuary for common and endangered animal species and works to promote safe interaction with humans. While volunteering, I helped maintain their website and social networks, photography and videography, and even helped market a few events.

Above: Here is a video I quickly produced for one of Fuzzy Faces Refuge’s annual events. This video isn’t perfect, but to visually show and brand this event for the non-profit was worthwhile as they were extremely appreciative and it was fun! (youtu.be/i3VtAIzgSPI)

U.S. News wrote, “5 Ways Volunteering Can Save Your Job Search,” where volunteering can increase your morale, grow your network, upgrade your resume, teach you new skills or improve on existing ones, and even help you choose a career.

Every time I had an interview with a company during or after these experiences, the interviewer would be very interested in my volunteering background. Those experiences became a unique part of my background and helped me land two different jobs after college. Volunteering also helped me increase my network and skills.

Volunteering is Great for Your Physical & Mental Health

Volunteering makes people feel good about themselves because they help without expecting anything in return. People donate their time and efforts to a non-profit whose mission they believe benefits society. According to a post on Harvard’s blog, “Participants who volunteered with some regularity lived longer, but only if their intentions were truly altruistic. In other words, they had to be volunteering to help others—not to make themselves feel better.”

Searching for a job right out of college can be hard and challenging. You may be left with feelings of low self-esteem as well as a fear of the unknown, but volunteering can benefit you! According to a study from the University of Exeter Medical School in England, volunteers have lower levels of depression, enhanced well-being, and are more satisfied with life. There’s also evidence “of an approximately 20 percent reduction in mortality among volunteers compared to non-volunteers.”

Regardless of whether you’re just starting out in your career or are a seasoned journalist, you should consider volunteering your journalistic skills as it will benefit you in some way. I couldn’t wait to help at events or to promote content for the non-profit because I knew I was benefitting their mission while expanding my own skills and network!

If you’re interested in volunteering, I recommend the following sites to get started:

Sources:

Related Articles:

Better than a Paycheck: Why Volunteering and Giving is Worth it!

My experience with volunteering is relatively new in my life. It has given me much pleasure not only working with different kinds of people and organizations, but also using my journalism skills to help out awesome causes and spread their mission around. Many people asked me if I get paid or get anything out of it, and I always smile a bit and say of course there’s no pay, but I DO get something out of it: the experience, and the joyful feeling of completing a project or heightening the organization’s vision.

If you haven’t notice, I am a stress-loving, fast-paced and energetic individual who has a reputation for taking on as many projects and tasks as is physically and mentally possible. I learned more about multi-tasking and the glory of email communication as well as how passionate each organization is with their goals! In turn, in makes you passionate for their goals and see it as a just cause to help out.

Here is a list of my volunteer experiences that are ongoing:

Citiwide Vocational Center

Citiwide Vocational Center logo designed by Katie Corder in 2013.
Citiwide Vocational Center was the first volunteer experience I did using my journalism skills. So many people asked me how I got involved, and, to spread the word, I got involved with Volunteer Match. Citiwide was in need of a massive website clean-up and social media management. What’s nifty about volunteering for Citiwide is that they are located in Washington, D.C., and I am located in the Raleigh area, so I had to rely on email and phone communication with the founder. Citiwide Vocational Center offers computer training (hardware and software), GED completion, and other training related to career prep for technical jobs; it prepares residents for the computer workforce by offering them classes, skills and other educational opportunities.

My actions involved creating a new logo and name change, cleaning up a TON of HTML and CSS code on their WordPress site, organizing links and content, and revamping their social media accounts. I plan on continuing to volunteer for this amazing group whenever they ask for my services and hope to meet them face-to-face whenever I make it up to the D.C. area!

Health 2.0 NC Triangle

Health 2.0 NC RTP logo.Health 2.0 NC Triangle is my most recent and growing volunteer experience. I became involved with this chapter of Health 2.0 by attending a Sapient networking event in Morrisville, NC. I met Brent Anthony at the event, and he explained his idea of starting a Health 2.0 chapter in the RTP area. What place in North Carolina would be better than the Triangle for such an organization? It was a brilliant plan, and it continues to grow by attracting healthcare professionals, medical doctors, health data analysts, health communicators, students and anyone else interested in health, health IT news and ideas.

Since becoming part of the CORE group of Health 2.0 NC Triangle, I witnessed the group growing from four people to well over 200! My role involved reaching out to the community using social media—mainly Linkedin, Twitter, Facebook and Google+, yet no website is available yet for our chapter (it’s in the works though!) As of now, I assist in communicating events, news and other topics on social media as well as photograph and live Tweet at events. We had our introductory event, “Blazing the Trail,” as the ‘launch’ of our organization, and it had a shocking turnout of over 110 people! As the group grows along with the upcoming website, I expect to play a more central role in helping this group take off in the fast-paced RTP health community!

All-N’ Together Services

All-N' Together Services logoAll-N’ Together Services was my first non-profit that I became involved with after college. With this organization, I helped lead donation drives for new and used school supplies for low-income, rural N.C. public school students. I’ve been working with them for over a year now and love to collect and buy school supplies knowing they’re going to such an amazing cause. North Carolina’s public schools were recently ranked the lowest in the country for public education, and because of this, students, families and educators need any help they can get more than ever! I learned, and continue to learn, how to motivate and lead people to donate and spread the word, which is great leadership, outreach, and non-profit experience.

Whenever I give donations to the main organizers of this non-profit, I feel an enormous feeling of warmth; however, I always find myself thinking: “I could’ve done more … I could’ve collected more supplies or reached out to more people!” But I tell myself afterwards—every little bit helps. I plan on helping them out once or twice a year for as long as I am able to, which reminds me since you are so lucky to be reading this post … if you are living anywhere in N.C. and would love to donate your used or new school supplies or backpacks PLEASE contact this amazing organization for more information. Any support would be much appreciated!

That about sums up my current volunteering experiences! I donate food as well as clothes to various organizations and groups whenever I get a chance and am looking into volunteering for Habitat-for-Humanity for the first time (I’ve always be curious about it). It just shows that you don’t need a 9–5 job to use your journalistic or communication skills as you can also learn and gain experience with non-profits. There was a study that found that helping out others and volunteering emits greater happiness within you than other things in life ,like materialism or money, and I am not only a believer of that, but am now living it.

Thanks for your interest! 🙂

Becoming Familiar with RTP’s Health Expertise

Last week, the organization Health 2.0 NC Triangle held their “Blazing the Trail” event, which brought members together to network, learn about upcoming health and health IT news and path the way for the organization to take off. Well over 100 people showed up to listen to a few well-known health experts discussing various health topics.

I reached out using social media including Twitter, Linkedin, Facebook and G+ to gain attention of the event and organization. While at the event, I live tweeted and took some photos of the event. We are now in the process of creating our website and blog to further promote the vivid and expansive health and health IT opportunities in the Research Triangle Park area.

I’ve always been interested in science / health and technology and find that this group allows me to become more informed about not only local, but nationwide health topics. One of the cool things that I got to try on while at the event was the very popular Google Glass, a beta version:

Lubinsky Google Glass

These were AWESOME. You could scroll on the side of the frame (see above) with your finger to look at all sorts of different types of apps and webpages. It wasn’t exactly what I expected with only a thick, rectangular glass on one side of the frame.

Keep a look out for future Health 2.0 NC Triangle events around the RTP, N.C., area!