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.