3 Surefire Tips for Smart Volunteering
These days, if you wish to get your foot in the door of prestigious colleges and universities and high-profile companies, you need more than a remarkably written application letter and a well-rounded personality to seal the deal and get ahead of the competition. You need to make yourself stand out from the rest of the crop. One good way to do that is to include your volunteer experience in your applications, and more often than not, doing so is an effective way to grab the deans’ or prospective employers’ attention.
However, if you want to volunteer, always remember that it’s about the people or organization you lend a hand to—not about you. So while it’s good to know that volunteering is adding a feather to your cap, don’t forget to have your heart and mind in the right place. Below are tips for smart volunteering.
Do an extensive research.
A wide range of volunteer opportunities exist, but to come up with a substantial list, prepare to do an extensive research. Look in your local papers, community or church newsletters, and websites like Volunteer.ca and Cadip.org. Don’t underestimate other sources, however. Your family, friends, and neighbours may also have good recommendations.
Find a cause that you are passionate about.
Once you’ve done your research, chances are, you will have a long list of options, and it can be overwhelming to narrow down your choices, but don’t draw names out of a hat! It all boils down to knowing what issues or causes you care about.
For example, if you are passionate about animal companions, offer to help shelters in your community. If you feel strongly about environmental causes, submit your volunteer applications to the organizations that promote awareness of environmental issues through tree-planting activities, park or beach clean-ups, recycling campaigns, and the like. If you have a soft spot for the senior members in your community, join organizations that provide meals and transportation for the elderly. Volunteering for organizations with beliefs that are in line with your own means you are likely to give your all, and that is the most important thing.
Plan your schedule.
You can volunteer for as many organizations as you like, but remember not to overstretch yourself. Volunteering can be an exciting experience, especially when you begin to see the fruits of your efforts, such as forming friendships with the people you help out and receiving words of appreciation from them, but do not overcommit. The last thing you want is to renege on your promise to help out. As such, if organizations are planning for a big event, such as a pet adoption day at the neighbourhood park, double-check your schedule before you specify a volunteer shift. Remember that volunteer heads have a lot on their plate, and if you agree to a date or time that your schedule don’t really allow, the heads would be forced to move schedules around and rethink their plans as well.
Take note of the three tips above, and you will be on your way to make volunteering a worthwhile learning experience. After all, it’s a chance to give back to your community. That’s a worthy enough reason to do things right. Good luck!