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How to Find Somewhere to Volunteer

October 28, 2015

 Having volunteer experience is resume gold. It shows you are invested in your community and passionate about working hard or giving back. Even if you don’t have years of job experience, volunteering can be a helpful way to gain experience and knowledge that will help you in the workplace.

The first step is to figure out what you love. This doesn’t have to be the same thing you do for a job, or the same thing you’re studying in school. It can be anything you find yourself passionate about or interested in. “Find something you are passionate about and enjoy doing, helping children, cleaning up your city, building houses, or assisting the elderly, then find organizations that support your passion,” Charlene from Gap, Inc. says. Google is a great place to start your search for organizations that are related to your interests, and word of mouth can be extremely helpful as well.

Do a little soul-searching. Often, things that excite you or frustrate you can be the clues you need to figure out where to invest your time and energy. “If you are a person who likes to participate in faith based organizations you can contact the house of worship you attend for ideas and suggestions as well,” Rachel from Eaton says. Not a religious person? Charlene suggests: “There are also causes that you may have a deep connection with and those organizations are often looking for volunteers to help with events or administrative opportunities.” Identify the areas that you resonate with most deeply and start your searching there. It might be world hunger, care for abuse survivors, healthcare, city beautification, after-school programs for children, or something even more specific.

Next, contact key groups or organizations. If you have an organization in mind, reach out to somebody who works there. The human resources department is a great start, or a volunteer coordinator in particular if you can find their contact information. Rachel from Eaton also gives this advice: “Contacting your local United Way organization is a great place to start.  You can go online to www.unitedway.org and find your local united way as well as look at the volunteer opportunities available.  Their database will include the organization that is requesting help, the type of volunteers needed and the contact information for the coordinator.” Charlene gives another helpful starting point: “You can also reach out to your local chamber of commerce for city volunteer opportunities.”

Combine your career path with your volunteer service. Marisella, a hiring expert at American Express, gives this brilliant suggestion: “One suggestion I have is to really stand out is research companies you desire to work at and see which volunteer organizations they support. For example, if a company attends yearly events or partners with community groups that seek volunteers. Once you do that research, begin reaching out to those volunteer organizations so you can start branding yourself as someone who volunteers at similar places to the companies.”

Whether you start volunteering because of your passion, a random interest, the desire to make a difference, or to help you in your job search, it’s a worthwhile and wonderful way to spend your time. We applaud your efforts and appreciate the good work you’re doing in communities all around us, so keep it up, volunteers out there!

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