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Top ten tips for finding the right volunteering position
If you are looking for a change of career of looking to add a bit more meaning to your spare time, then volunteering may be for you. Volunteering provides an excellent opportunity to learn new skills. It can also give you a great chance to meet like minded people. However, in order to get the best out of your volunteering position you should try and choose the best position for you.
Here are ten tips for finding the perfect volunteering position for you
- Try something new. Volunteering is provides a great opportunity to learn new skills, and meet people you may not get the opportunity to meet very often. Therefore it is best if you find a volunteer job that contrasts with the day job. Many people choose to volunteer because they want to help others, and choose a job that they can utilise skills they already possess. However it is always more interesting to find a job where you can find new skills of your own. This experience may become increasingly valuable if you ever decide to give up the day job.
- Meet the clients. The best way to get a feel for a charity is to meet some of the people it serves. So ask a potential volunteer manager if you can meet some of the charities clients. They will be able to give you all the information on what a charity does and if/how it helps.
- Find out about possible career paths. Many charities will provide great training and clearly identifiable routes into a career. If you are volunteering because you are looking to change career then choose a charity that will provide the necessary support and training. Find out if any previous volunteers are working in the charity. A good way for a charity to support volunteers is to then provide paid work for volunteers who excel.
- Find out what you will be doing. Ask for a typical timetable. Ask who you will be reporting to. Find out what support you will receive and how much freedom you will have to make decisions and grow into the job.
- Expenses. If you are not within walking distance of the charity of your choice then it is a good idea to find out if they will cover travel expenses. Most charities will reimburse bus fares. If you are not working then it is a good idea to make sure that volunteering doesn’t leave you even shorter. Although many people do find volunteering jobs that they love so much they are quite happy to pay to attend.
- Don’t over commit. Often when someone finds a new volunteering position they are so excited at the happy contrast it makes to the mundane 9-5 jobs they have or have had, they try and give too much of their time. This can lead to the volunteer becoming bored or letting the charity down through poor attendance. It is best to keep yourself fresh and give more quality than quantity of time.
- Be professional. If you are going to volunteer then you should treat it as if you are being paid. You should be reliable, turn up on time and commit yourself to learning and training provided. You should also remember that for other members of staff it is their regular paid job- a career- so if you treat the position disrespectfully then they will take offence.
- Client time. Make sure that you get ample opportunities and time to communicate and get to know the clients that the charity serves. Many of the people who use charities, do so because of an issue that makes them feel excluded. It will make them feel great to know that you are giving of your own free time to talk to them and get to know them. So make sure your volunteer position will not be filled with menial tasks but that you spend much of your time with the clients it supports.
- Give & take. Ensure there’s a balance between what you can offer the charity and what the charity can offer you in return. Volunteering can be very rewarding, especially if you’re formally trained on the job, but still typically rewarding by simply gaining experience in the workplace within your ideal career or getting the opportunity to give back to the community by helping those most in need. But considering how much your chosen charity can benefit from your time volunteering, you may find you don’t stand to gain quite as much as you’re putting in. Either way, if there’s an imbalance between give and take, it doesn’t tend to work out. Try to make a balance.
- Research. With the unemployment rate so high and so many charities desperate to employ volunteers, you will have a huge array of opportunities. So get on the internet, and go to volunteer agencies. Keep an open mind and find the right volunteer position for you.