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"Never volunteer", a timeless, tired foot-soldier's maxim-fortunately for both those volunteering as well as those for whom they volunteer, is demonstrably bad advice in many instances, despite its encapsulated wisdom in connection with friends who need to have their piano and other furniture moved.

Despite whatever appearance of ease of participation, volunteering can involve rigorous screening, a demand for strong qualifications and a very high degree of commitment, not to mention very specific requisite motivation.

In connection with career advancement during a period of unemployment or pre-employment, it is wise to consider a form of volunteering closely related to and supportive of personal career goals. Hence, given the choice of volunteer work with an environmental group or a homeless shelter, anyone with the goal of working in social services would be smart to choose the latter.

Of course, such career considerations can be set aside where the importance of the contribution to society or the needy outweighs the narrower career benefits-especially since that sacrifice will speak volumes about one's character to a prospective employer.

A volunteer is a person who provides his or her time to perform services for communities, groups, and organizations or other individuals without receiving any financial or monetized compensation in return. The individual collects no money, does not exchange services and usually no gift is received as payment for any duties or services rendered. Individuals decide to lend a hand or give back to their communities or other groups and organizations for many different reasons, including the desire to repay past kindnesses, to connect with other people, to set a good example for others, to support a cause or simply be part of something, to help family and friends, to fulfill perceived moral and other obligations, to please others, to fill unoccupied time; or the desire to gain some valuable experience.

By helping others, people become more aware of problems and challenges that others face. They are able to appreciate causes and campaigns. It provides first-hand experience regarding specific subjects and exposure to what people are doing to make a difference.

Volunteering can make people feel good or better about themselves and others. When an opportunity arises to serve, help or show support, it can trigger certain feelings of unity and cohesiveness within the group of people lending a hand. Hence, it can also be a great way to make friends, because similar-minded people generally determine that helping people is a great thing to pursue. Similarly, the gratitude of those helped can strengthen emotional bonds with others and fulfill the desire to be needed and appreciated.

Although in many instances volunteers do not require specialized skills, there are also many volunteering opportunities for highly-trained professionals to provide their knowledge, talents and time simply because those who need this help are unable to pay for them. Examples include medical professionals, who, assigned through a recognized international medical volunteer agency, travel abroad to provide medical help where it is most needed.
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