Contrary to popular belief, volunteerism isn’t merely a selfless act. People who choose to donate their time and talents also reap many rewards throughout the process of helping others. Youth volunteers, especially, benefit in ways that are very advantageous.

Having a sense of empathy when looking at other people’s plight is enforced when working as a volunteer. It gives young people a chance to view life from a different lens than their own and put things in perspective. Part of learning about who you are is by seeing your place in the world and how you compare with others. By seeing the disadvantages around them, it also gives them a new-found appreciation for the things they do have. Along with empathy comes respect for their elders and other members of the family, and a less self-absorbed outlook on life overall.

The skills that are learned by contributing as a volunteer also help improve real-world life skills that will be needed throughout adulthood. Problem-solving, creative thinking, time management, and collaboration are all soft skills that are enforced by volunteerism. This not only helps with a person’s self-esteem when it comes time to apply for jobs, but it greatly improves their job prospects. Potential employers are more likely to choose candidates who have volunteer work on their resume because it shows character and integrity.

Many people nowadays, especially young people, are mindful of the world we live in and the things that need to change. Moral dilemmas about how to make a significant contribution echo throughout social media. One way to feel productive and a part of the solution is by volunteering for a cause you’re passionate about. It can also be a great way to make friends who are drawn to the same causes. In addition to connecting with the community, volunteerism at a young age has been shown to positively affect other areas of a young person’s life, such as academics. People who volunteer are able to focus better on their academic careers and achieve higher test scores than those who don’t broaden their minds through community outreach.

Another great benefit to occupying a young person’s time with volunteerism is that it prevents them from choosing an otherwise potentially nonproductive life path. Youth sports and community groups have far fewer members who engage in lawless behavior.