Volunteer work is one is one way to find a job in a tight market. If you approach the experience the right way, you can gain valuable contacts and work experience. You can also use the opportunity to investigate new fields or develop new skills. In any case, if you work hard and do your best the volunteer experience will likely be rewarding to you personally and professionally.
Things You'll Need
- Access to a computer
- Willingness to work
You may be able to turn your volunteer work into full-time employment with the organization you are volunteering for. If they see that you are a devoted and hard worker, they will think of you first if an opening arises. Let them know you are looking for paid employment. You don't need to make a hard sell; just do your work well and with enthusiasm and dedication. Make yourself indispensable, if possible.
Consider your time as a volunteer an opportunity to network and, if possible, learn new skills. During your time as a volunteer you may meet people in your chosen field who may have jobs available at their organization, or know someone else who does. Meanwhile, you are gaining skills, experience and references that you can add to your resume.
Although you may ultimately be searching for work, you must commit yourself completely to whatever volunteer opportunity you choose. Your time with the organization should be a win-win situation for both parties. Volunteering does not end with a job for everyone. To do volunteer work, you need to be tolerant, patient, flexible and committed. If you demonstrate those attributes, you will likely find the experience rewarding, even if you don't find a job as a result. And you will likely stand a better chance of gaining employment.
Choose your volunteer opportunity carefully based on your skills, experience and employment objectives. If you are an unemployed professional or skilled laborer, seek to use those skills in your volunteer work. Look for charities or community service organizations that need people with your skills. If, on the other hand, you have very little experience, or want to enter a new career field, look for a volunteer opportunity that offers you the chance to learn new skills, as well as gain insight into the nature of the work you are interested in. For example, volunteer in a hospital or in a care facility if you think you might like to be a nurse.
You can find abundant volunteer opportunities in your community or, if you are feeling more adventurous, throughout the country and even the world. Ask your friends and family, contact your church, the local school district or your favorite charity. If you are seeking a life-altering experience, consider AmeriCorps or the Peace Corps. Both organizations have strict qualification requirements and require longer commitments, but you will likely find the work rewarding personally and professionally. AmeriCorps offers a tuition stipend and volunteer opportunities throughout the United States. Volunteer work with the Peace Corps can take you to dozens of countries around the world, and can be excellent preparation for graduate school or employment. Consult the website idealist.org for volunteer work and jobs with nonprofit organizations.
Tips & Warnings
- Volunteering is ultimately about helping others, even while gaining valuable experience and contacts. Do your homework, know the organization you are considering, their mission and their values. Talk to current or former volunteers if possible.
- Know what your limitations are and be honest about them with the organization you wish to volunteer for.
- Photo Credit BananaStock/BananaStock/Getty Images
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