Finding a Volunteer Position
Once you’ve decided that you’d like to volunteer while working toward your college degree, it’s predominantly up to you to decide on the kind of volunteer work you’d like to get involved in and to do the legwork required in finding a volunteer position. Finding a volunteer position won’t be as difficult as finding a paying job, but it may take some time for you to research the possibilities out there. Do you want a position that is related to your field of study? Are you interested in working with a particular segment of the population? Consider what’s most important to you before you start looking for volunteer positions, so that you can tailor your search to those opportunities that fit your needs and interests. Check out our information below on how you can make the volunteer search easier, so that you’re not so discouraged by the process that you change your mind about getting involved in community service.
CONSULT WITH YOUR COLLEGE
If you’re really lucky, the volunteer position you end up signing up for will translate into some academic credit, especially if your college places an emphases on service-learning. Your college will be a great source of information for you as you begin looking into volunteer opportunities, as your school probably already has a number of active relationships with leaders in the community who may be in need of volunteers. Talk to your career services counselors or investigate options through the student union; talk to other students on campus, or look to college-based clubs or groups whose mission it is to work with populations and causes you have an interest in. You may not even need to look beyond campus to find the right opportunity for you. Some colleges even include volunteer service as a part of their curriculum, so make sure you know what’s expected of you when you first come on campus. If that’s the case, your school will definitely be your primary source of information, as they probably have a list of available opportunities at the ready for students who need help with volunteer placements.
LOOK TO EXISTING RELATIONSHIPS
Many groups and organizations include volunteer and community service activities as part of their missions to either raise awareness about their own cause, build reputations, or from a general sense of altruism. If you’re already part of a group, or are interested in joining one, they could already have volunteer activities set up for members that happen on a consistent basis. This kind of arrangement could be particularly desirable for those who enjoy working in groups, or who like the teamwork involved in multi-person volunteering activities.
Community service is a big part of most every church’s mission. If you’re a part of a church or religious organization or are looking to get involved with a particular church, no matter the denomination, chances are good that they would be able to link you to volunteer opportunities in the community. Most churches will focus their efforts on the immediate area, as they look to make a difference in their service areas. But some will look beyond their communities to send volunteers on mission trips across the country and, sometimes, around the world. Depending on the kind of volunteer work you’re interested in, contacting your church could be a good way for you to grow closer to your faith and do some good at the same time.
As with many situations you’ll come across in college, the key to finding that ideal volunteer position may be less about seeking out a gig that meets all of your strict criteria and more about being flexible. Think about the things you would be willing to compromise about before looking for volunteer positions. Are you interested in working in a particular part of town, or with a particular segment of the population? Are you only available certain hours or certain days of the week? Will this position be short or long-term? Make sure you know what kind of volunteer position would fit all of your needs, and how open you are to compromise if you find volunteer work that excites you but that doesn’t meet the qualifications you had originally come up with when you decided to volunteer. You could find that being flexible will allow you to align yourself with a volunteer position that is even more rewarding than you anticipated.