The benefits of volunteering and embracing your empathy

The work done to further the actuarial profession is also work that benefits the public. After all, actuarial work is geared toward enabling people to plan better for the future by controlling or reducing financial risks and by developing strong standards of practice, guidance, education, and research.

That’s why it is crucial to recognize National Volunteer Week, as our volunteers embody Volunteer Canada’s theme for this year – empathy in action. Even further, it’s why the CIA endeavours to celebrate their contributions to the profession through the CIA Legacy Awards.

While the central idea of volunteering is to assist others, many do not recognize just how greatly this activity benefits volunteers themselves. During National Volunteer Week, we want to encourage you to embrace your empathy as well as share what you can gain from the experience.

What can you achieve by volunteering?

Expand your horizons – Volunteering is an excellent opportunity to debate, contemplate, and strengthen your knowledge base through interactions with your peers. By increasing your exposure to different schools of thought and practice areas, you’ll have more opportunities to increase your awareness of key issues that matter to you.

Build valuable new connections – Through regular meetings, you can meet a variety of peers with unique interests, abilities, and outlooks. What a great opportunity to form new friendships, find a mentor or sponsor, and grow your network.

Strengthen your reputation – By contributing your time and efforts, you will have the chance to build on your personal brand and establish yourself as a great thinker, future leader, strong collaborator, or creative-content contributor. By proving your abilities, you can also gain new and unique work opportunities that you would not otherwise have access to.

Further develop as a professional – If you would like to try a new position, volunteering can be your chance to try out a new role and develop expertise in other areas.

For example, taking on a leadership role allows you to develop a new and diverse skill set, with the ability to present, negotiate, resolve conflicts, and more. This can be invaluable as you may not have opportunities to attempt these skills in your current work environment, and it can be a great way to build your resume.

What do our volunteers think?

A few of our volunteers have shared how volunteering has given them exclusive opportunities for growth and established new and meaningful connections and friendships; all while giving back to our unique profession.

“Volunteering has helped me grow as a person. It helps me to network, significantly expand my circle of friends and it helped me to get to know many people from all walks of life. It also helped me get elected to the CIA and Society of Actuaries Boards – I was able to also get into different jobs thanks to referrals from my network.”
– Mercy Yan, 5 minutes with Mercy Yan, 2021

“There are many reasons to volunteer – the satisfaction of a job well done, broadening your network (without having to ‘network’!), influencing and shaping actuarial practice, participating in the future direction of the profession, and likely as many other reasons as there are volunteers.”
– Sharon Giffen, 2019 CIA Legacy Awards

“Volunteering greatly impacted my career by making me more aware of the importance of certain subjects and topics. My experiences let me convey the importance of these topics while teaching actuarial science and share this importance with my students.”
– Sheldon Lin, 5 minutes with Sheldon Lin, 2021

How can you get involved?

The first step to volunteering is identifying the causes that matter most to you. Selecting an organization or cause that you feel passionate about can increase the chances that you’ll enjoy contributing to the opportunity – and thus increase your ability to do a good job while you work!

With a volunteer base of more than 800 actuaries, there are many ways you can contribute your skillset and help advance the actuarial profession. Have a look at our current volunteer positions (login required); with over 150 volunteer groups, there is a good fit and opportunity for each and every member!

Raising your hand and taking that first step isn’t always easy. It takes courage to get involved, but you’d be surprised by how far acting on your empathy for others can take you, and your community at large, throughout your journey as a volunteer.

Let us know why you volunteer in the comments below. We’d love to hear from you!

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Canadian Institute of Actuaries
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Ottawa, Ontario K1R 7X7

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