What is Volunteerism?
Volunteer work, also called community service work, is working for free for many different types of agencies to provide needed services to people, the community, and the planet. You may volunteer a few hours each week or full-time and/or volunteer while you go to school, look for paid work, or work at a regular job. Volunteer work provides the opportunity for personal growth, career exploration, and making a contribution to your community. Some of the benefits of volunteer work include getting training, experience, and skills which can be applied to future paid work. Another advantage is meeting people who can vouch for your work skills and personal character.
Track and document your volunteer experience
It is important to keep records of your volunteer experience, including dates and hours worked, type of work performed, skills used, names and phone numbers of supervisors, and names and addresses of organizations for which you worked. Some volunteer service bureaus will help you track this information, but mostly it will be up to you to keep good records. Ask the organization you work for to give you a written job description of the work you are doing, but also write your own description.
Use your volunteer experience in obtaining work or applying for school
When you are reading to apply for school or work, use the written records you have kept about your volunteer service. If the application doesn't provide room to describe volunteer work, ask the employer if you can attach a separate document to describe the work you did as a volunteer. Be sure to include this information on your resume. In the job interview, be sure to mention specific skills you gained, problems you solved, and other accomplishments as a volunteer. Be specific about your accomplishments.
Gain contacts and references
One of the most important benefits of volunteer work is getting to know people who will know how valuable a worker you are. Be sure to ask people who supervise you or who are familiar with what you do as a volunteer to serve as references for future job applications. Keep a list of these people who can serve as references, including their job titles, phone numbers and email addresses.
Where to do volunteer work
Choose an organization that matches your career and personal interests, values, and goals. Here is a list of possibilities, but you may think of others. Remember that applying for volunteer work, even though unpaid, is a serious task, similar to applying for a paid job. Don't be discouraged if you are turned down for some volunteer opportunities. Use every interview as a learning experience, and eventually, you will find the position you want.
- Feeding America (formerly Second Harvest)
- Open Arms of Minnesota
- Greater Minneapolis Council of Churches
- Hunger Solutions Minnesota
- WellShare International
- A Chance to Grow
- American Red Cross
- Pillsbury United Communities
- M Health Fairview
- Hennepin Healthcare
- Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy
- Land Stewardship Project
- Minnesota Hunger Partners
- Youth Farm and Market Project
- Hmong Cultural Center
- People Serving People
- Big Brothers, Big Sisters
- Comunidades Latinas Unidas en Servicio (Clues)
- Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota
- Ramsey County Community Human Services
- Wilder Foundation
- University of Minnesota Landscape Arboretum
- The Food Group
Search Other Opportunities:
Also check the websites for any local hospitals or clinics or county programs and watch your email for announcements about opportunities.
Our Departmental student organizations are also a great way to gain volunteer experiences: