This blog is part of our #WhatsNext series for former volunteers, inspired by the What’s Next Notebook resource from Catholic Volunteer Network and Catholic Apostolate Center. In each blog, we will explore helpful tips for looking back on your volunteer experience, saying goodbye, determining your next steps, and sustaining your spiritual growth during the transition to “life after volunteering.”
“I’ve learned that ‘making a living’ is not the same thing as ‘making a life.’” – Maya Angelou
For many, a year or two of full-time service is an excellent opportunity to gain a clearer understanding of the career path they truly want to pursue. Through the experience of stretching yourself and serving in unexpected roles, you probably learned a lot about your strengths and weaknesses.
Take some time to review your answers to the Professional Skills questions covered in our previous blog in this series, “How Far Have You Come?”. These questions are meant to help you reflect on professional skills you have utilized as a volunteer, talents you’d like to continue to develop, and goals that you may have now in your re-entry period.
As you read through these questions a second time, note the areas that give you the most energy and inspiration. How can your experiences and interests relate to a career path? Jot down some ideas in a notepad or word document. These areas are the ones that are most likely to result in a long-lasting and fulfilling career.
Working in the Nonprofit Sector
There are a wide variety of nonprofit organizations out there— grassroots and broad reaching; ecumenical, denominational, and secular; direct service focused and advocacy-based. Almost any professional skill, talent, or interest can find an outlet in the nonprofit sector. This, of course, varies according to the mission and work of each organization, but you may be surprised to learn about the diversity of jobs available. Nonprofits are excellent places to make a difference in the community while learning about an area of interest to you. They are also excellent places to learn new skills, while using the ones you already developed as a volunteer. Nonprofits are not just “training grounds”; there are many excellent career opportunities and many people have fulfilling life-long careers in the nonprofit sector.
Working in the Church
Your volunteer experience may have inspired you to work directly for the Church. The Church is a large organization, with many different ministries and structures supporting those ministries. Some of the largest ministries in the Catholic Church include: Catholic Schools; Catholic Charities or Catholic Social Services agencies; youth and campus ministry; and parish ministry. A great way to explore the opportunities available to you in your parish is to schedule a meeting with your parish priest or a principal of a local Catholic school. They will help you get connected to the right people to learn about the job openings that are available to you.
Working in the For-Profit Business World
As a returning volunteer, you might have some questions about entering the profit-making arena. You may even wonder if it is possible to live out a commitment to social justice in the fast-paced, upwardly-mobile, competitive world of business. The answer, of course, is “Yes!” Such a commitment is possible for anyone in business. One way to live out your commitment is to do plenty of research on the company before you apply for a job with them. If it is a multi-national, does it respond in a responsible way to the needs and conditions of workers in developing countries? How responsible is its use of resources, both human and natural? What are its hiring processes? Does it have a commitment to racial justice and make accommodations to persons with disabilities? Does it encourage employees to contribute to their community? Does it make contributions itself? The business world is very much in need of persons for whom these values are important. The Christian commitment you bring to your work will have just as much effect as if you were working in the nonprofit sector or the Church. Only you can know where God is calling you to live out your vocation.
Thank you for diving into our #WhatsNext series! Next week, we will explore the theme of Discernment – Job Hunting, in which we will cover key resume tips for effectively communicating your professional and volunteer experience.
Be sure to register and receive all our resources for former volunteers, including the What’s Next Notebook and our Weekly Job Bank, by clicking here!