With summer quickly approaching, you might be trying to plan a vacation, schedule a few summer courses or line up a part-time job. Have you ever considered volunteering along with your other summer activities? Most high school students do volunteer work because they think it might help them get into college or earn scholarships, but the majority of them quit doing it once they actually begin college. That’s too bad, because volunteer work is a great way to meet new people, gain new experiences, and learn about yourself all while helping others and giving back to the community!
Volunteering may have helped out you when you were a high school student applying to colleges, and it may also help you once you begin your post-college job search. You could wind up finding a line of work that you’d be interested in pursuing after you’re done with school, and it also makes a great impression during interviews.
1. See if your school has an organization which assists students in finding local volunteer organizations, or hit up Google. If you will be returning home to a different city this summer, you can still do your research from school if you plan on volunteering back in your home town.
2. Write a short list of a few things you think you’d like to do or a few places you’d like to volunteer. Do you want to help out at a church or homeless shelter? Paint houses? Volunteer at the zoo? Tutor younger students? The opportunities are almost endless. If you can’t make up your mind, you can always do a few different things to test the waters and see what you like. This is volunteer work, not a lifetime commitment.
3. Figure out how many days or hours per week you will be able to volunteer. This will be helpful to the person you wind up speaking with. You will sound much more professional if you say, “I am able to help you out on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays from nine to two” than if you say “Well I guess I can show up once or twice a week.” If you want to test the waters and do a one-time volunteer session to ensure that you are comfortable with the organization, that’s okay too. Just let them know.
4. Make a few phone calls and set up some ‘appointments’! Most non-profit organizations need all the help they can get.
1. Once you have obtained contact with an organization, don’t be afraid to ask questions. Find out what exactly they will need you to do. If it is something that you are not comfortable with doing, speak up. They will not know you Do’s and Don’ts unless you tell them. If you offer to help out at an animal shelter, they may want you to walk dogs or clean litter boxes or fill out paperwork for people adopting animals. There are many things that need to be done at most places, so find out what you may be doing.
2. Once you have arranged an initial volunteer session, be on time! You should not commit to something only to arrive late. This will make you look unprofessional. The saying is true: you only get one time to make a first impression. Make it a good one.
3. Find out what you need to bring with you, if anything.
1. Volunteering does not necessarily have to be done on-site. If you won’t have access to a car, or you will have a job during the daytime and weekend, you can still volunteer. Maybe you can stuff envelopes or prepare flyers from home and drop them off at the organization.
2. Volunteering does not necessarily have to be through an official organization. If you are able to help out an elderly relative or neighbor a few hours a week, they will be just as happy to have company and assistance as a “real” organization.
3. Be safe. Volunteer with a friend, or be sure that you are not going places or doing things that you feel uncomfortable with.
4. If things don’t seem to be working out for you, that’s okay. Thank the organization for the opportunities you had with them, and move on.
Melissa Rhone earned her Bachelor of Music in Education from the University of Tampa. She resides in the Tampa Bay area and enjoys writing about college, pop culture, and epilepsy awareness.
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