Volunteering as a Networking Tool

Unless you are lucky, getting work in the international development sector will mean more than just answering a job ad. Networking is essential, and fortunately, organizations like Devex offer aspiring development and NGO professionals with avenues for them to do just that.

But some people do not enjoy attending networking events for one reason or another. It could be because they don't think they'd fit in, or that they would appear to be trying to "sell" themselves in the hope of landing a job.

So if you're one of those people, there's a way to get around going to such events but still be able to network: volunteering.

"[Volunteering] is the best case of multitasking," said Meg Busse, director of Idealist.org's Career Transitions Program, in an interview with colleague Jung Fitzpatrick.

Such occasions, she said, not only allow individuals to establish relationships but also contribute to a project, where they can build their skills and experience.

Volunteering, Busse added, presents a venue to meet people who work in the same industry, particularly the nonprofit sector.

A volunteering opportunity is "one of the best ways to engage with [nonprofit professionals] because you're already stepping into their world … saying, ‘I want to help you do the work that you do,' and ideally, being able to follow it up with ‘think about doing this on a long-term basis,'" Busse said.

There is definitely logic to Busse's arguments. In many cases indeed, volunteer assignments have become long-term, if not permanent, engagements.

About the author

  • Eliza Villarino

    Eliza Villarino is an associate editor for Devex and leads the company's news team in Manila. She played a critical role in conceptualizing the Development Newswire. Prior to joining Devex in 2004, she has already published articles and news briefs for Internet media organizations and for the Institute for Ethics and Economic Policy at Fordham University in New York. She earned her bachelor's in political science and master's in public affairs from the University of the Philippines. Eliza is a member of Mensa Philippines.