This is a question that I have been asked by students, management and others. Why should you participate in these type of activities? What are the benefits. Usually, I answer for my self - I enjoy it but it has also helped me with a number of skills - leading without authority, event planning, financial acumen, etc. Today I ran across an article that may also be helpful:
Why you shouldn't turn down a committee assignmentActively participating in a professional organization is key to developing valuable relationships that can help your career, Lyan Fernandez writes. Being on a committee, for example, "puts your appetite for involvement, initiative and leadership in the spotlight among potential prospects and employers," Fernandez writes. The Miami Herald (free registration) (5/16
One specific benefit is that participation with other volunteers can teach you a lot about communication strategies and interpersonal relationships. These dynamics can be somewhat different when everyone is a volunteer, versus when you're in a work environment where issues such as salary, rank, job assignments, etc. can affect how you relate to your peers, as well as those "below" and "above" you (in terms of management). Working with other ACS volunteers has given me insight into the subtleties of relationships, which has in turn helped with strategies that can be used in my "day job".
In addition to Frankie's and Bryan's comments, I have heard some great descriptions of the personal benefits of volunteer work; these are, of course, in addition to the good feeling you get from helping out.
For a couple quick reads on the career benefits of volunteering, try these two articles:
This is part of a report from the 2006 Equipping the 2015 Chemical Technology Workforce. This particular piece summarizes a panel discussion in which four chemical professionals discussed the impact of their volunteer work on their careers.
If you scroll down to the third page of the PDF (labeled p. 16), you will find an article on the benefits of volunteering. This article is from "T + D," a periodical for industry trainers, and it encourages volunteer work as a low-cost option for leadership training.
If you volunteer, you can affect the organization, shape/direct it in a way you feel is best, make an impact. (If you don't you get what it is.) By taking a leadership role, you are vetted and others will view you as more credible. You can also pick up management and technical skills (in a sense, on-the-job training) that are transferable to other parts of your life. You can also make an incredible number of contacts, most likely to pay dividends later.