- Have a special talent or hobby that you love doing?
- Enjoy helping others and giving back to your community?
- Want an experience that can help you to get into college and get a job?
Yes? Then you should try getting involved in volunteering!
(If you come across an unfamiliar word as you read this, don’t just skip over it, look it up! This will help you get the information you need AND build a strong vocabulary)
What exactly does volunteering mean?
Volunteering involves giving of your time and skills for free to meet a need, promote good, or improve human quality of life.
What are some ways to volunteer?
- Organizing a rock concert to raise money for people in need
- Blogging, designing graphics or creating an app for an environmental group
- Gardening in a park or repairing damaged homes
- Mentoring and tutoring a younger student at your school
- Reading to or playing games with people living in a retirement home
Why should I get involved through volunteering?
You probably know that volunteering is a great way to give back to your community, meet new people, and make new friends. But, what you may not know is that it can also help you:
Discover your passion
Learn new skills
Get into college,
GET A JOB
Start a career!
How can volunteering help me do this?
In addition to helping others, volunteering gives you a chance to:
- Earn school credit or community service hours
- Explore different types of work you might like to do in the future
- Gain skills and experience while expanding your network
- Meet professionals who can mentor you and help you start your career
- Practice asking for and using accommodations that you will need in college and on the job
4 Steps for Finding a Volunteer Opportunity
1. Decide what kind of experience you want.
Finding the right volunteer opportunity is easier if you know what types of activities you are looking for. To begin, try asking yourself these questions:
- What skills and experience do you need to reach your college and career goals?
- Do you want to work with people, animals, tools, or machines?
- Do you like to be indoors or outdoors? In busy places or quiet ones?
- Are you interested in working on an existing project or starting your own?
- How long do you want to get involved for?
2. Find a place to get involved.
You can find the volunteer opportunity you want by:
- Checking out places you are already familiar with in your community, like your school, a neighborhood center, or your place of worship
- Asking for ideas from your friends, family, teachers, and anybody else you know
- Searching for opportunities on the following websites:
3. Learn more about the volunteer opportunity.
Once you find a volunteer opportunity, it’s important to make sure that it’s a good fit. The best way to do this is to:
- Visit the location and meet the people you would work with
- Find out what you would be doing and what tools or technology you would be expected to use to accomplish this
- Ask about both the most fun part of the job and the hardest part of the job
4. Apply for a volunteer opportunity.
Before you can start volunteering, many organizations may ask you to fill out an application and go through an interview. You can impress them and show them you deserve the position if you:
- Treat the application and interview as seriously as if you are applying for a job
- Have someone review your application and help you practice for your interview
- Answer questions honestly and with a positive attitude
- Don’t forget to mention your skills, interests, and any previous volunteer or work experience you’ve had related to the position.
Things to Think About
Requirements and Restrictions. Some volunteer opportunities require that volunteers meet certain conditions, such as:
- Being over a certain age or getting permission from your parents if you are under 18
- Passing a medical exam or a criminal background check
Ask about requirements and restrictions early on so that you don’t waste time applying for opportunities you don’t qualify for, and so that you can make sure you can meet application deadlines. Keep in mind that completing tests and paperwork can take a lot of time.
Your commitment level. Before committing to a volunteer position, make sure you can put in the time and effort needed. Being reliable is essential to being a good volunteer. It can also help you get a positive letter of recommendation from your supervisor when you apply for college, scholarships, and jobs.
Your rights and responsibilities. Even though volunteers are not paid, as a volunteer you still have certain rights, and in return, certain responsibilities. For example:
- You have the right to have a say in deciding what volunteer work you will do
- You have the responsibility to follow through on the work commitments you make
Accommodation requests. If you have a disability, you can choose to disclose your disability and ask for accommodations to help you do your best in your volunteer position.
You don’t have to disclose or request accommodations, but practicing by doing so now can help you feel more comfortable if you need to ask for accommodations later in college or on the job.
You can learn more about disclosure here.
Having fun. Volunteering should be fun, so make sure you are doing something you enjoy!
Now that you know:
- What it means to get involved in volunteering
- How volunteering helps other people AND helps you
- How to find, choose, and apply for a volunteer opportunity…
…Go out and start volunteering!