For a Better Shot at a Job, Donate Your Time

Volunteering can cut a young person’s chance of being out of school and out of a job in half, a new study shows.

To find out what caused young people to experience what they call “disconnection”—neither being in school nor having a job—researchers at an inequality-focused nonprofit looked at the characteristics of young adults between ages 16 and 24 in 25 cities, based on data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2010 Current Population Survey. One factor that affected disconnection, they found, was whether they’d volunteered at least once in the past year.

The typical young adult who volunteers has a 5.7 percent chance of being disconnected, compared with about 11 percent for people who don’t give their time away for free, according to the study, released Monday by Opportunity Nation, a group focused on fighting inequality that is a part of the nonprofit organization Be The Change.

Opportunity Nation, Be The Change, Inc.

Race factors in to how much of a résumé-booster a volunteer gig can be. For people from families of “low socioeconomic status,” where neither parent completed high school, volunteering seemed to help whites slightly more than it did blacks.

Volunteering has been shown to be generally good for people in other ways. People who volunteer are 27 percent more likely to land jobs, according to a 2013 study. They’re also happier, per a 2007 review of the health benefits of volunteering, which showed that doing service work makes people more functional later in life if they volunteer when they’re young, and they tend to have lower rates of mortality and are healthier. 

With all its benefits, doing some volunteer work is basically like a complete life tuneup. Altruism, as it were, is kind of selfish.

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