Unemployed? Volunteer!

Posted by Judy Anne Cavey on Dec 2, 2010 in , , | No Comments

Work Experience and Job Offers

Many students are discovering it’s difficult to find (or hold) a job. Those seeking employment complain, even in good times, they have no experience and employers ask for experienced applicants. What are your options right now? Volunteer!

Volunteering is one of the best ways to gain experience, fill unemployment gaps, and receive job offers while helping others at the same time. When you are exposed to various duties, it lends opportunity to hone skill-sets that will be useful when applying for a paying job.

For example; a food bank needs volunteers as office workers, food stackers, distributors, and collectors. Adult Community Education programs need tutors for those wanting to learn how to speak English. After school programs want volunteers to assist children in doing homework or to play games. Animal shelters need people to feed animals, clean cages, or be a “comfort volunteer” to animals, (hug, pet and calm them while they await adoption). Habitat for Humanity needs volunteers to paint, build framing, do landscaping and decorate their homes.

Perhaps stepping out of your comfort zone is what’s needed, that path may lead to an entirely new avenue for you. Keep your eyes–and mind–open to new possibilities.

Do What You Like

A job seeker might assist a nonprofit with a fund-raising project, write a grant, or set up the office with the latest technology using valuable skill-sets. Networking in the community for the nonprofits interests will also expose you to people who may see your dedication and hire you when they are able. A volunteer benefits by staying productive in the workforce and filling a gap on a resume by contributing to a nonprofit.

A student may match their favorite hobby to a volunteer endeavor. For example; you may love to paint or draw, those talents may be taken to a convalescent home to give classes to the elderly. Or you may love to read, teaching someone to read through the local Literacy Council. If you love children, you may volunteer as a teacher’s assistant or in an educational program for children after school.

There are many opportunities in your community, you need to do a bit of research to find one that suits your interests. Additionally, a career quiz can help hone in on several different career options. Remember that even though you are volunteering, you have responsibilities that others count on being done well. Always treat your volunteer work as if you are employed. Show up on time ready to work, go the extra mile to do a job well-done, and dress the part. Helping those in need–a child, the elderly, or animals–can be an extremely rewarding experience. They grow to rely on you, this is why your dependability is paramount.

Paid Positions

A letter of recommendation from the person supervising your volunteer efforts will provide a valuable tool when you apply for a paying job. Not only that, when paying positions open up within the organization where you are volunteering, you will have access to that information before it is made public.

Many people have received job offers based on their volunteer work. Personally, I can attest to this fact, having been offered wonderful opportunities based on my performance as a volunteer. While a volunteer at the Literacy Council, I was offered a paid position to implement a learning program. This was a unique and exciting endeavor that not only helped the students, but provided me a new challenge and opportunity to expand my abilities.

Gain Experience

A volunteer position allows a person to see what they are capable of doing–pushing personal limits–through a work challenge. You might not know how to paint a house, but you can acquire that skill volunteering with Habitat for Humanity. Teaching may be foreign to you, but if you help someone to read through the Literacy Council, it can become second nature. When you test the volunteer waters, you begin to see what you like, or don’t like, and can pursue a future career based on what was learned, or make a much needed change in the direction you were headed.

Character Building

Volunteering builds character. When you forget about your own wants and needs, focusing on someone else, you become a better person. Entering into another persons world means you gain a broader perspective. Everyone benefits; the people you are helping, the community, country and you. Find a need and fill it!

What needs do you see in your community? Put your skills to work. Make a difference, change a life–your own and another persons–volunteer today!

©2009 Judy Anne Cavey, who resides in the S.F. Bay Area of California, is a credentialed, certified, higher education instructor who taught Work Experience/Cooperative Education and ESL at three community colleges. She is also a freelance writer and grant writer currently authoring a textbook, has designed other learning programs, and worked with several nonprofits. Her Edublog, “Work Experience”, is a not-for-profit endeavor designed to assist job seekers of all ages. http://workforcedevelopment.edublogs.org/