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Public Health Epidemiology Conversations Podcast

Episode #46: Addressing a Common Myth About Volunteering

Volunteering is a great way to gain experience, network within your community, and get closer to the public health career you desire. Unfortunately, some people have difficulty fitting in the time or energy to volunteer. But it doesn’t have to be overwhelming or complicated! In this episode, I address a common myth about volunteering and share an alternative way of approaching the idea of volunteering.

Show Highlights:

One of our podcast listeners, Raphael, recently wrote an article on LinkedIn sharing five tips to make the most of your gap year in education. In the bonus section of this article, he mentioned that this podcast has been valuable and informative resource for him and recommended it to his readers. (Thank you for that Raphael!)

One of his five suggestions was volunteering because:

  • It’s an essential way to develop skill and prepare for your future.

  • Volunteering shows a drive and commitment to be in the public health field regardless of getting paid or not.

  • It’s an opportunity to work with professionals, students of all levels, and community members.

  • He found clarity, developed skills, and gained an amazing network of like-minded individuals.

  • It’s not always easy but if you have a future-focused mindset then it will all be worth it in the end. You get experiences through volunteering that you won’t get anywhere else.

Common challenge and myth regarding volunteering

A member of our community recently commented about feeling frustrated trying to find the time to volunteer. She feels like she needs to quit her job to make time, but she can’t afford to do that. Many people feel this way and it is really discouraging. Other members of the group posted tips for her:

  • Join a professional organization and become active.

  • Don’t get locked into your ideas about what you think a public health job is, but instead be more open-minded.

  • Have a creative mindset about volunteering.

Creative ways to address this volunteering challenge

Case study example from our community

A participant of one of our workshops decided to use an online platform to organize a health-promotion challenge because she was already spending time online and using social media. It created an amazing ripple effect that wouldn’t have happened in her regular 9-5 job.

  • She organized a heath-event online.

  • She participated in a health fair at her church.

  • The community was excited and receptive.

  • She was featured in a newspaper article.

Some other tips to remember about volunteering

  • If you’re a student in a public health program, you don’t need to wait to volunteer. You can apply what you’re learning while you’re learning.

  • We can make things so complicated and get in our own way. The communities we volunteer in are often so receptive and appreciative of your time and energy.

  • When you invest in volunteering, you get a big return in confidence, clarity, networking, and new skills.

  • It’s also fun! You don’t have to know everything about what you’ll do, just take action, jump in, and learn.

If you would like help with volunteering, then the volunteering for experience workshop is available to help you with more detailed information to get you started.

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