The Volunteer Path to a Marketing Job

It's a time-honored conundrum with marketing careers or, for that matter, just about all jobs: you need the experience to get the job and you need the job to get the experience. It makes you wonder how anybody ever does anything.

One thing you'll find is that people will let you give away your time and talent on the theory that they have little or nothing to lose if you can't handle the job. And if you're unemployed with time on your hands, you have little or nothing to lose by giving it a shot. Working without pay is not a bad gamble against a future paycheck-somehow, some day, somewhere-and volunteering is good for the soul. In most cases, it's also great for the resume.

Volunteerism has been on the rise with the recent spate of layoffs. Marketing professionals don't want a huge gap in their resumes and want to stay active and involved in their field. They've done a lot of thinking following a major job loss and devoted themselves to a complete and thorough inventory of their personal priorities.

If, for example, your priority is animal welfare, then volunteer at the local dog pound or the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals-not as a dog walker or kennel cleaner, but to develop and launch an awareness campaign. Volunteer at the local senior center, not to serve meals but to develop brochures and fact sheets about the services it offers. Worthy causes are everywhere, from hospice to Red Cross, libraries to literacy programs, homeless shelters to early childhood development.

The Volunteer Path to a Marketing Job Professional organizations have volunteer opportunities, as well. You can find a whole page of them on the American Marketing Association's website (http://www.marketingpower.com/Community/Pages/VolunteerOpportunities.aspx). These will open the door to networking possibilities and offer challenges in program planning, speaking, participating in special interest groups, joining a council, or serving on a committee.

Volunteer Match.org and Idealist.org are solid sources for national and community service activities. Both sites report a sharp increase in users during this period of recession and high unemployment. The Bureau of Labor Statistics has noted a big jump in the number of volunteers, beginning right about the time the economy took a downturn.

Last Updated: 05/21/2014