Maximize the Experience
To get the most out of volunteering, approach it like you would a paid job.
- Arrive on time and work for as long as you are expected to be there.
- If you can't be there when expected, give as much notice as you can.
- Be a team player. Show initiative, solve problems creatively, focus on the task at hand, pitch in, and give everything your best effort.
- Be willing to try new tasks and assume new responsibilities. Be ready to step in and lead activities. The most valuable skills you can bring to any volunteer effort are compassion, an open mind, a willingness to do whatever is needed, and a positive attitude.
- Listen and learn. Attentive listening is another valuable communication skill, one that all effective leaders possess. When you truly listen, giving your undivided attention with the goal of understanding, you will learn something and earn the respect of your peers.
- Keep your eyes open for opportunities. Learn about the organization and how it runs. If you notice an area where you can offer assistance, offer it. If you see an activity where you might learn something new (fundraising, grant writing, event organizing), jump in!
- Turn acquaintances into friends and connections. Make sure they know you are seeking employment. As your fellow volunteers get to know you and your capabilities, they may think of you if an appropriate paid position becomes available. Keep in touch with colleagues even when your time volunteering together has ended. Ask if you can use them as references as you look for employment.
- Keep a record of the volunteer work you do. Include projects, tasks, achievements, lessons learned, training recieved, and certifications earned. This log will help you identify "transferrable skills" for your resume.