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How do I Become a Volunteer?

Tricia Christensen
Updated May 23, 2024
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There are frequent reports for the need of volunteers in so many different charitable organizations. Sometimes, people don’t know how to get started if they want to become a volunteer. There are actually many ways to become a volunteer and find opportunities to help others.

When a person is looking for volunteer opportunities and doesn’t care about where he volunteers, a good place to look for jobs is through local volunteer centers. These centers may have lists, much like classified ads, requesting volunteers in a variety of fields. It can help to choose a volunteer position that will take advantage of work or life experience, and some volunteer positions do interview prospective job applicants or require that they have certain experience before hiring them. Other employers and companies may not be that picky and are willing to take on anyone who has enthusiasm for the work.

Sometimes people want to become a volunteer in a specific type of work. They might want to help at an animal shelter or work in a hospital. The best route may be to contact such facilities and find out what volunteer programs they have available. Some programs, like candy striper work or chaplaincy may require job applications and training, and this training isn’t always free. Looking around at a few programs can help people find the ones they’d like that don’t charge for training.

Many schools now have community service requirements for students. Schools may additionally have volunteer job listings that can help people become a volunteer. Sometimes listings for jobs are exclusive to the school and people might find work as tutors, classroom helpers, or administrative assistants.

It isn’t always necessary to look at not for profit companies to find volunteer opportunities. Plenty of individuals and for profit companies might benefit from volunteer help too. A volunteer babysitter or someone who helps a neighbor with housework can be making a big difference in a community. Volunteering doesn’t have to be a full time commitment and might just be an occasional thing that promotes good feelings between neighbors.

When people would prefer to become a volunteer in a more formal way, there are a few tips to follow. Consider looking for volunteer jobs as similar to looking for paying work. It can help to put together a resume and a cover letter explaining why volunteering would be personally satisfying. When people attend interviews, they should be dressed appropriately and ready to chat about their desire to become a volunteer. Reading some guides on resume writing and interviewing may help people secure the volunteer opportunity they want.

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Tricia Christensen
By Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a InfoBloom contributor, Tricia Christensen is based in Northern California and brings a wealth of knowledge and passion to her writing. Her wide-ranging interests include reading, writing, medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion, all of which she incorporates into her informative articles. Tricia is currently working on her first novel.
Discussion Comments
By irontoenail — On Jan 29, 2014

I've always wanted to become a volunteer firefighter, but they are apparently fairly strict in who they allow to apply. My sister applied there once and was told that she didn't live close enough to the station. Which, I guess makes sense, although I always assumed they would want people from across town so that they could possibly make it to the fire more quickly.

I guess there's not much use getting to the fire if you don't have any equipment handy to fight it.

By indigomoth — On Jan 28, 2014

@Ana1234 - I would argue that it depends on the job. I mean, I can still remember having French teachers exchange with my high school teachers for only a couple of weeks and it felt like a positive experience for everyone.

If all the kids ever get is an ever-revolving line-up of foreign teachers then I'd be worried, but the occasional helper who they can use to practice their English would be a good thing.

By Ana1234 — On Jan 28, 2014

There are some really amazing volunteer opportunities overseas as well, but you've got to do your research before you take them up. Becoming a volunteer can be a long, drawn out process if you want to sign up for the long term.

And the thing is, for the most part you should be prepared to do something for the long term, unless it's a one-off task, like building a house. I don't think it does much good for people to volunteer as a teacher for two weeks, for example, as being an effective teacher means getting to know your kids and that's impossible in such a short period of time. You might superficially enrich your own life, but you may even negatively impact the people you're trying to help, as they learn to see themselves as a glorified tourist attraction.

Either commit to being a real volunteer, or just take a holiday and spend your money in their economy instead.

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a InfoBloom contributor, Tricia...
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