Whether your teen plans to find a job, go to college, or enlist in the military upon completing high school, volunteering is a wonderful experience that any teenager can benefit from. Not only does it allow real-world experience, an opportunity to learn how an organization operates, and a way to become involved in one’s community, but it can give your teen an idea of what they’d like to do in their future, too.

In Scranton, PA, the city’s library began a teen volunteer program to engage high schoolers in the area with technology and social media-based initiatives so more teens and city residents would utilize the library’s resources. This program allows Scranton teens to become involved in their local library and community, learn how the library operates, and apply their own skills and knowledge on current technology to encourage other people to become involved with the library, too. The teen-to-teen library recommendations through social media is a great way to promote the library’s programs as well as entice other teens to utilize the resources the library offers.

Here are four reasons your teen should begin volunteering in your local town or city.

1. Volunteering Allows Your Teen to Become Involved With an Organization That Excites Them

Research shows that our attention span for digital tasks is only 40 seconds. What kinds of projects does your teen thrive at? Do they enjoy working on the computer, or are they easily distracted on the internet? Some teens enjoy hands-on projects, while others like working individually. When it comes to volunteering, encourage your teen to find an opportunity that excites them.

If your teen enjoys hands-on projects, help them look into opportunities that regularly include this kind of project. Habitat for Humanity, a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing affordable housing for all, has construction opportunities for hands-on teens and adults looking to make a difference in dozens of communities. Teens aged 16 or older can join the Collegiate Challenge program to help build and repair housing for families. This program can stay close to home or involve traveling. Another opportunity for hands-on volunteer work could include engaging with a local food pantry or program that provides food to low-income families. Organizing and dispursing food could be activities that excite your teen because they involve hands-on work and provide an opportunity to give back to their community in a rewarding way.

2. Volunteering Impacts Character and Offers Opportunities for the Future

When your teen goes to find a job down the road, their volunteer work will definitely be an opportunity they will talk about in interviews as well as in the workplace to connect with future employers and coworkers. 80% of millennial new hires question how they will fit into the culture of the company recruiting them. If your teen volunteers as a teen and young adult, they will be learning earlier on that selflessly giving back is something every person should do, in any capacity, at some point in their life. Volunteering for an organization that both helps its community and values the work and dedication of its volunteers builds character for teens involved. The skills your teen will learn from volunteering as well as the work ethic they establish will help them in their future career when it comes to workplace culture and efficiency.

3. Volunteering Offers Relationship-Building and Networking Opportunities

Along with the positive impacts that volunteering can have on your teen’s work ethic and skill set, many opportunities will also offer the chance to create meaningful relationships with other volunteers. If your teen volunteers at a local animal shelter, they will likely meet other animal-lovers and build meaningful connections. Groups of volunteers who see each other on a regular basis can build lasting friendships.

Volunteering also offers networking opportunities for the future. A supervisor can become a job reference when your teen applies to their dream position down the road. Working with organizations that seek to serve a greater purpose, such as the Sierra Club and its fight to clean the earth, are important opportunities your teen should take into consideration while they’re young. If your teen found themself to love the mission of a particular organization, they may find a job in that field down the road where they can utilize their past volunteer experience as a way to build their own career in a meaningful direction.

4. Volunteering Can Positively Impact Your Teen’s Future

Volunteering provides several personal and professional opportunities down the road. However, your teen may feel inspired to act upon their volunteer experience immediately after finishing high school. In 2018, the National Disaster Medical System and the Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) deployed hundreds of volunteers and intermittent employees to natural disasters throughout the 10 HHS regions across the country. The Peace Corps sends thousands of adult Americans to countries around the world to help communities through a range of projects. Your teen’s volunteer experience in high school may change their entire mindset, encouraging them to want to help people across the world in a greater way. Perhaps your teen’s dedication to service will lead to a longer and stronger commitment to volunteering during their adult years.

Why volunteer? Even in a small volunteer role, your teen can become involved in an organization that means something to them. Volunteering provides the opportunity to meet people, learn about one’s community and the world, and build a meaningful skill set and work ethic that can be utilized in both their personal lives and in the workplace. Encourage your teen to volunteer in your community in any capacity so they can learn, grow, and make a positive impact on their community today.