Like paid staff, volunteers require support to successfully complete their tasks. At my position at SCHC, I’m responsible for ensuring that our volunteers have positive and meaningful experiences when contributing to our organization. The tips offered in this column are meant to assist SCHC and other volunteers.
As a volunteer, it is important to establish boundaries while contributing to an organization. Although you want to be helpful, never do anything that makes you feel uncomfortable, breaches your/client's privacy or jeopardizes your safety.
- If you are frequently asked to do work that doesn’t interest you or enhance your skills, meet with your main contact and ask to have a wider range of tasks included in your routine, or connect with me.
- If you are given a huge volume of work that should be carried out by paid staff, talk to your key contact to figure out what portion of the task is manageable. Always work in a safe environment.
Volunteering to get more experience
In addition to making a meaningful contribution to the community, many people volunteer with the expectation of gaining valuable experience. Volunteering is an excellent opportunity to develop the skills and professional networks needed for advancing your career. As a volunteer you can explore different programs to prepare for paid work:
- Be sure to volunteer in an organization or program that matches your career goals. For example, if you are interested in being a seniors' personal care worker, volunteer in an organization or program serving seniors.
- While volunteering, be proactive and set up informal interviews with program staff about your career goals in order to seek their advice and insights.
- If you are a newcomer, pay close attention to the “work culture” because it may differ from the culture of your country of origin.
- If a paid position becomes available at the organization you are volunteering with, do not hesitate to apply. Many organizations would be eager to hire a familiar applicant who has demonstrated dedication, enthusiasm and has good work ethics.