So, About Volunteering…

Have you been adamant about volunteering throughout your academic career? Have you been told that volunteer work is extremely important for building your resume? I’ve definitely heard this before, and I’ve been hearing about it since high school. But I have to admit— I’m a little late to jump onto the volunteering wagon. And it isn’t all my fault. Let me tell you why…

I love helping others. The older I get, the more I realize that I truly am happy to help others get what they want, feel better about something, or just experience success— whatever that may look like. The problem is that I’m a homebody. I love being home! And staying home isn’t conducive to volunteer work— or so I thought. So, for many years, I remained a dormant volunteer just waiting for the perfect opportunity to come my way. And of course, nothing came my way. I watched my friends dedicate hours and hours of their time to organizations and events far from home, spending late nights in distant locations and I began to feel like a bad person for not doing the same. I mean, I was about to graduate and I hadn’t done any volunteer work. So, I decided that I had to get out there and find what I was looking for.

My search began with the internet, and ended with the internet. And that’s when everything changed.

Let me ask you: what images come to mind when you think of volunteer work? Where do you picture yourself in a volunteering situation? Are you sitting behind a table wearing a shirt that was given to you with the organization’s name on the front waiting for people to come up to you so that you can hand them a sign-up sheet? Are you helping to set up a room full of chairs for a big presentation by a guest speaker? Or maybe you’re serving food? Needless to say, I surely didn’t think that volunteering looked like me sitting on my couch with a computer on my lap…

I had never thought that I could volunteer online and get any recognition for it until I found a goldmine of online opportunities through websites that are dedicated to recruiting volunteers. LOTS of non-profit organizations and small business owners actively seek volunteers to work remotely anytime, anywhere. A lot of these organizations gladly offer reference letters and proof of the time you’ve dedicated to helping them out. If you ask me, it doesn’t get better than this.

So, do you need to build your CV? Have your professors refused to write a reference letter because you have not been volunteering? (Yes! That absolutely happens!) Are you lacking experiences and don’t know where to find them or don’t have the time to spend traveling around because of your schedule? Then the solution may be to volunteer from home.

Here are two of the coolest sites I’ve stumbled upon that have changed my notions about volunteering, and quite frankly, have helped to open my eyes to the endless possibilities that exist in terms of skill development and experience-building.

This site started it all for me. Sign up, and select your areas of interest, and select “remote”. You’ll get list of organizations all over North America who are searching for volunteers to complete tasks from home. You can help to get animals adopted, or develop your coding skills and graphic design skills for start-ups looking to build websites. The range is opportunities are truly endless.

Does it seem too good to be true? Don’t kid yourself. Some of these organizations ask for a CV and cover letter, and will only contact you if they like what they see. You may even need to pass a phone interview. Regardless, my experience with Volunteer Match has been wonderful. I’ve volunteered for multiple organizations though Volunteer Match, and I have met some truly wonderful people through my work. I highly recommend using this site to find opportunities you are passionate about.

Are you interested in getting your feet wet in some global development initiatives without having to travel? Sign up, and browse through the categories they based on your interests. All of these opportunities are online and can be done from your computer. But beware! Although the United Nations have their name all over this site, the organizations you actually volunteer for are not part of the United Nations. This means that once you agree to volunteer through this site, you are agreeing to deal with a third party. It’s not a bad thing; it only means that you can’t claim that you’ve volunteered directly with the United Nations. Nevertheless, this site is totally worth checking out. Categories range from technology development, project management, outreach, and administration, just to name a few. In my case, some of the more interesting opportunities are those that seek volunteer English Teachers for students in rural India.

Bottom line: Find what works for you, and go with it. If you can take anything away from my experience, it’s to challenge what you think is the norm and what you think others want from you. Because after all, no act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted…

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One response to “So, About Volunteering…”

  1. Tessa says:

    Wow, good to know!

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