You may only think of summer as the perfect time to relax, cookout, get a tan, and drink endless margaritas. I won't disagree with you — all of those things pretty much make summer the most wonderful time of the year. But, summer is also a great opportunity to find ways to volunteer and give back.
I remember being in high school and needing to fulfill a certain amount of community service hours. My friends and I all had overachieving parents who would force us to go above and beyond the requirement and volunteer throughout the summer. This will probably make me sound like a terrible person, but we all absolutely hated it. We complained endlessly about needing to give up our precious summer vacation in order to play cards at the local nursing home.
Pardon me for sounding cliché, but as I've gotten older, I've really started to see the value in volunteering and giving back to your community. Trust me, it's still difficult to tear myself away from the pool in favor of rolling up my sleeves, getting down and dirty, and doing some good. But it's personally rewarding and worth it in the end.
If you need some inspiration to set down the margarita and pull on some work gloves, I've got you covered. Here are seven reasons you should be volunteering this summer:
1. It looks good to current or prospective employers.
Even if you volunteer for selfish reasons, it still counts! Donating your time in order to give back to your community adds a lot to your professional reputation. Whether you're working with Habitat for Humanity or are dishing out meals at the local homeless shelter, your community involvement definitely won't hurt as an addition to your résumé or LinkedIn profile.
2. It's a great opportunity to network.
Similarly to polishing up your career documents, volunteering is also an awesome opportunity to network and meet new people. Maybe you'll meet a business owner who wants to pay you to design some promotional materials or manage their social media accounts. Perhaps you'll find a new friend who you love chatting with over coffee. Or, if you're extremely lucky, maybe you'll pick up trash alongside the highway with Liam Hemsworth's best friend — who insists on setting the two of you up on a date. Dream big.
3. You can try new things.
Since volunteers are utilized to cover a wide variety of tasks and responsibilities, you'll likely need to master a new skill while helping out. Whether that's hanging up drywall or brushing up on diagramming sentences in order to help a kid with their homework, you'll probably get pushed out of your comfort zone. Embrace it!
4. It gets you out of the house.
I know what it's like when sweatpants are basically screaming your name, but there's no point in wasting your entire summer indoors. When autumn rolls around, you'll have nothing to show for yourself — other than the fact that you binge-watched all seven seasons of Mad Men. Volunteering is a great way to get your booty off the couch in favor of doing something a little more productive. I promise, your favorite television show will still be there when you get back.
5. It's personally rewarding.
It sounds corny, but volunteering really does make you feel good. There's nothing more rewarding and fulfilling than knowing that your time and energy was spent on something that's helpful and appreciated. A lazy afternoon might seem more appealing in the heat of the moment, but I promise that you'll never regret volunteering your time.
6. It can be a bonding experience.
Whether you're looking for a way to get closer with your parents or are searching for a new activity that you and your close friends can do together, volunteering can be an awesome bonding experience. Nothing brings people together like trying new things and giving back. So grab some of your loved ones, and get out there!
7. You can snuggle puppies.
Really, I just couldn't leave this off the list. Animal rescues and shelters are always looking for volunteers to do things like walk dogs and clean cages. So, not only do you get all of the benefits outlined above, but you also get to snuggle and sweet-talk some pups. What more could you want?!
Looking for instant ways to beat the heat this summer? Check out these genius cooling tricks, and for more life hacks, visit Bustle on YouTube.