Volunteering is something I’ve always been passionate about, but somewhere between the chaos of school and work, I haven’t been able to actively participate in organizations that are important to me. Now that I have graduated and have a more structured schedule, I want to readopt the “do good, feel good” attitude and make it my mantra.

In addition to helping a community, volunteering has other benefits that can be beneficial to someone looking to launch their career. If I could go back in time, I would have made the time to volunteer through college to develop additional skills I didn’t gain in a classroom. I urge you to consider these top three benefits of volunteering and apply them to the remainder of your college career.

1. The chance to, you guessed it, network.
I know professors drill networking into their students’ heads every chance they get, but they’re right. Networking opens new doors and opportunities you may have otherwise never known were there. Volunteering can help expand your personal and professional networks. If you are not tied to an organization already, consider one within your field of focus. For example, if you’re interested in healthcare, volunteering at a hospital may open doors to meeting professionals in that area.

2. Practice, practice, practice.
Volunteering in college not only gives you real-life situations to practice the skills you learn in class, but also allows you to bring back the skills you gained while volunteering to practice in the classroom… it works both ways! You’ll begin to relate to topics you learn in class because you are able to apply them to your own experiences. Practice doesn’t (always) make perfect, but it definitely helps you make sense of skills that will be used in your very near professional future.

3. Endless opportunity.
Jam packed schedules may limit college students in exploring new activities and passions, but with the chance to volunteer in almost any industry, opportunity is endless. Dedicate some of your time to a rescue shelter if you love animals, but I would challenge you to test the waters and volunteer for something you don’t know much about. You never know what new passions you could uncover.

That “do good, feel good” attitude can actually carry over to success in your career. Volunteering boosts self-esteem and is good for your mind and body because you accomplish something that makes a difference. The better you feel about yourself, the harder you will work toward success in future endeavors.

What organization do you plan to volunteer for? What do you hope to gain from volunteer experience?