I'm a graphic designer & web developer, just out of high school, and was hired to work on a site for a local historical preservation group after graduation.

Now, the group has presented me an invitation to be a board member, and that sounds fancy, but being right out of school, I'm only looking at this from the perspective of a +1 on my resume.

When I asked for advice on the matter, I was told "Definitely accept it. It'll sound great on your resume."

I'm trying to figure out whether or not this will really be as good for my resume as it sounds.

I'm taking into account:

  • This is a non profit, (non paying) culturally and locally focused organization, which is not exactly experience in the field of innovative, efficient, perfection-driven design and web development.

  • At the same time, I have very little work experience, and while I do have plenty of business coming in, my goal is team leading and this might offer experience working with others.

  • "<Town Name here> Historical Foundation" doesn't exactly preach to the choir in the technology field. In fact, it's a slightly boring area for me. I want to create and innovate and inspire. On a resume for future jobs in the development field, this might reflect on me as being old fashion or historically inclined. I don't mean to discount history as uninteresting, but it's probably not appealing to geeks and project managers looking for new ideas and innovation.

  • The organization is volunteer-based and "fully" willing to cooperate with my schedule, but I spend basically every moment awake working towards development of paid and personal development projects. So even if the time cost is small, every minute matters and I'd hate to waist time if the position will not help my career.

  • Work is easy to come by, and I have more than I need. This isn't a question of work gained by affiliation, but of experience and resume value.

Overall, I'm eager to promote my career as efficiently as possible, and I'm just not sure whether accepting this opportunity will help me.

Will taking this part-time position likely be a good choice for promoting a future career in the technology field, as far as my resume goes?

Edit: I'd like to know whether or not such a position and the responsibilities involved are resume-worthy, even though the organization's goals are not tech-related.

  • Personally, I would not put anything on my resume that doesn't directly show my competence for the role I'm competing for. Commented Jun 8, 2014 at 15:24
  • The question is, does being on the board demonstrate skills that are relevant to the position you're seeking? If you can cite some specific problem that you helped the Historical Foundation overcome which demonstrates your skills at managing conflicting demands and limited resources, or something like that, it may be worth calling out. Otherwise, I'd just mention it as a bullet item under "other interests" to show that you're a civic-minded individual and a Good Guy.
    – keshlam
    Commented Jun 8, 2014 at 16:29
  • I ask this because I'd like to ensure that I'm not seeing the situation wrongly due to my lack of experience. I'm not sure whether such a position really matters on a resume when I might not be dealing with any issues related to my field.
    – user20914
    Commented Jun 8, 2014 at 17:34

2 Answers 2


Civic activities, volunteer activities, and nonprofit affiliations are entirely positive for your resume.

Why? It shows that you care about your community. It shows that you are willing to work with other volunteers.

There will be some people who don't care at all about your org or your non-profit involvement. They won't even notice this item on your resume. With people who don't care about this kind of stuff you have nothing to lose by claiming it.

Others will notice it. It will serve as a conversation starter and relationship builder for them. That is always good.

Now, of course most orgs have minimal web sites. That's OK. It won't reflect poorly on you unless you claim it as a prominent part of your portfolio.

You asked a different question, I think. Is it worth your time and effort to serve on this nonprofit board? There are three criteria here:

  1. Do you have the time you need to do this?
  2. Do you care about the mission of the org?
  3. Do you care about the people who have invited you to serve?

If all those are true, go for it. If any are false, respectfully decline their invitation. There are lots of things you can do, and you may as well engage your passions in your volunteer work rather than mark time.

Don't worry about whether the organization has slick administration or muddles along. Either way you'll learn plenty from working with them. And learning is what it's all about whether you have four months or four decades of experience.

A closing point: as a preacher (second career) I'm here to tell you that preaching to the choir isn't all it's cracked up to be. The people in the choir think they already know what you're going to say, so they sometimes don't listen. In your resume, focus your message on people you don't yet know. Use it to build up your relationships.

  • I think this answer serves a larger audience, as answers should! +1 and well said. In my case, I enjoy working for any good cause if it can be done with innovative technologies, and being on this board might or might not allow for that. I'll give it a go!
    – user20914
    Commented Jun 8, 2014 at 20:16
  • 1
    Very nice answer, +1. I'd add: volunteering shows that you can work with people from all walks of life, not only the hyper-cerebral innovators. It shows broader horizons. This is also useful for geeks. (And don't discount "historical" stuff as being uninteresting to geeks. I'd say that the more "interesting" geeks are precisely the ones with at least an appreciation of history.) Commented Jun 8, 2014 at 21:18
  • I agree completely. I am a principal software engineer but I am also a volunteer firefighter and EMT for my local fire department. I list those on my resume for the exact reasons that you mention. They serve as conversation pieces and could be a differentiator between myself and another candidate should the interviewer be concerned with community service, etc. They may also like the idea of having an EMT in the office should a medical situation arise. This is both true in my current capacity where people love hearing my stories and are comfortable knowing I can handle a medical emergency.
    – rhoonah
    Commented Jul 6, 2023 at 15:47

You get out what you put in. The question is, what are you putting in? If you put nothing in, you are getting nothing out. If you have no idea what you're putting in, don't expect to be able to make to a prospective employer that you are getting something out that will benefit your prospective employer.

I have no idea how professionally run the non-profit is, but I would be concerned that they are inviting someone who is, to put it bluntly, as inexperienced as you, to be on the Board of Directors. Do you know what a Board of Directors is, do you know what your duties are as a member of Directors, are you expected to rubber stamp whatever the non-profit's management wants, or is the Board of Directors exercising a real supervision function on the non-profit's management? Do you know why they they invited you to be a member of the Board of Directors? Do you know the by-laws, including how decisions are made and follow-through achieved? I see lots of unknowns. And at this point, no answers.

If some prospective employer got interested or curious about your volunteer work and started to ask you these questions and you can't answer them, your credibility just got a very big hole shot through it. If your employer has little to zero interest in asking you about this volunteer work and is not asking questions that you can't answer, then you should breathe a sigh of relief.

  • Good points. I do understand all of these things in limited depth, and in this case, the group is interested in youth on the board to, presumably, keep the organization alive in the future.
    – user20914
    Commented Jun 8, 2014 at 17:42
  • I'm a little wiser than the average 19 year old, and was able to impress this group when working with them. It doesn't make up for my lack of experience. From a resume standpoint, could such a position and associated responsibilities benefit me in the future, even though the organization's goals are not tech-related?
    – user20914
    Commented Jun 8, 2014 at 17:44
  • @jtOdd As I said, you get out what you put in. It's up to you to be able to make to your prospective employer the argument that your experience as a volunteer is relevant to the prospective employer's needs. If you can't make the argument. there you go. Either way, you answered your own question. Commented Jun 8, 2014 at 17:51

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