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The Great American Cleanup: A Great Chance to Build Your Skills

Submitted by Lori Conlan April 20, 2010
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The Great American Cleanup Exit Disclaimer, an initiative of the nonprofit Keep America Beautiful (KAB) Exit Disclaimer, began last month on March 1st and runs through May 31st of this year. Last year, over 3 million people volunteered for this initiative and cleaned up parks, schools, and waterways, planted trees and community gardens, started recycling efforts across America, and more. While Earth Day is almost upon us, and while I'm an active member of the Appalachian Mountain Club and the Audubon Society, this is not a plug for you to get green and take an interest in cleaning up the environment--though I certainly support those ideas! It is instead an opportunity to bring to your attention the benefits of volunteering--including the fact that it can strengthen your candidacy for jobs. In an article on Exit Disclaimer, Matt McKenna, the Executive Director of Keep America Beautiful, shared his perspective as an employer on the benefits of volunteering: "[Many employers are attracted to] the skill set needed to be a volunteer: the ability to work in teams, they're very self-directed, they help others in projects that aren't necessarily their own." This willingness to help others with projects for which they have no direct responsibility is an especially appealing trait to employers seeking the best candidates, said McKenna. Does this sound like you? Do you regularly jump in when others need help in the lab? Whether this particular trait comes naturally to you or not, you might consider spending some time volunteering. The act of giving your time to help others can improve your mood, help you to think more clearly, and strengthen skills you can bring back to your current position immediately...and make you a more attractive job candidate in the future. To find a volunteer opportunity that appeals to you, visit Get Involved!,, or similar sites. Or get your hands dirty on Thursday.

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