Tips for a Successful Volunteer Experience
Submitted by Cynthia Mayberry, TG
In the higher education environment, there are abundant opportunities
to volunteer. From on-campus activities involving mentoring and building
financial aid awareness to community-based outreach and FAFSA workshops,
there are always opportunities to contribute your time and further the
worthy goals of important organizations.
Often, however, it can be overwhelming to consider taking on other
activities in addition to your existing responsibilities. This can be
a good time to reflect on some of the benefits volunteering can provide
to your personal and professional growth.
The benefits of lending a helping hand
Volunteering for a cause in which you believe provides the satisfaction
of knowing you've done your part to make the world a better place. It
can open many doors for you. It will help you develop skills, gain work
experience, develop knowledge of different career settings, create a
network for finding a job, discover your hidden strengths and talents,
gain self-confidence, find references, and build a sense of independence.
Also, volunteering is a terrific way to meet people who share your passions.
Evaluating your options
Here are five things to consider when evaluating opportunities to volunteer:
- Do your research.
Explore the mission and goals of each group you are considering. Visit
their Web sites, read their literature, and talk to their members.
Get an idea of future activities from the group's priorities.
- Match your skills to volunteer opportunities.
Where do your skills and talents lie? If you know how to do things
more efficiently, volunteer for positions where you can use and teach
these skills. Your contributions will be appreciated by others on
- Learn something new.
Volunteering can offer an excellent learning experience. If you'd
like to develop new skills, find an opportunity that will challenge
you to learn from more experienced participants in the group.
- Budget your time wisely.
Start slowly when making volunteer commitments and budget your time
wisely. You don't want to burn yourself out, frustrate others, and
end up with a negative experience.
- Create your own opportunity.
Every group is always seeking new ideas to complete projects and accomplish
goals. Do you have ideas about how to get things done right? Write
a one-page outline about what you can do, how you can do it, and then
go do it. Deliver it to the committee chair or other leaders of the
organization and start down your path to a fulfilling and worthwhile
Finding a cause you believe in while keeping these five criteria in
mind can contribute to a positive volunteer experience.