Find a volunteer placement that meets your needs
Volunteer Search Reflection:
Take some time to reflect on your passions, interests, and experiences to determine what sort of volunteer work aligns with who you are. To find a volunteer position that meets your needs, identify your goals and aspirations prior to starting your search. It is important to remember that these will change over time as your interests change. The following questions can aid the reflection process, which will help you identify what you want to do and what you don’t want to do.
- What are my interests?
- What type of position would I want?
- What do I most want to learn from the experience?
- What skills am I looking to develop?
- What type of work environment do I prefer?
- Do I want to connect with a professional in a specific field?
- Is there a specific field I am interested in exploring?
- What position would align with my Career goals?
- How much time per week would I be able to devote to the volunteer position?
- What type of work environment do I prefer?
- Is this a one-time or short-term or ongoing project?
Volunteer Search Strategies:
Once you understand your interests and goals, you can move on to your next step, searching for volunteer opportunities. Here are a few strategies to facilitate your search:
- Identify your Current Network: Make a list of friends, family members; as well as family members of your friends. You may also include teachers, professors, employers, or supervisors. Try not to leave anybody out!
- Reach Out to Your Existing Network: Once you have completed your list, consider if there are any people among your current connections who are in the field you’re interested in, hoping to get into that field, or who may know somebody in that field. Think of ways your network could be helpful to you. If so, find a way to make a connection with them. If it’s somebody already working in the field you’re interested in, reaching out to inquire about volunteering opportunities might be a good way to start. Example of a good networking request:
"I’ve done some volunteer work at YMCA so I’m familiar with non-profit and have some experience working with children and youth, but I’d like to talk to somebody who’s currently working in the non-profit sector about volunteer opportunities in program management. If you know of anyone working as a manager in non-profit — or if you know somebody who knows someone — could you please either give me their name or give them my contact information so I can arrange an informational interview? Here is where I can be reached".
- Hang Out with Friends: This is the easiest way to start building your network! These are the people who know you best so they’re the ideal people to recommend you to others for career exploration, or job/volunteer search information.
It’s important, however, to ensure that your friends know what you’re looking for — so be specific. Give them detailed information, not just about your interests, abilities, and experience, but about how they can help you get what you want. Ask your friends about how you can help them. Never forget that networks give and take, not just take.
- Join a club or team: You never know who you'll meet while participating in a club or on a team. It doesn't have to be a career-related club either. Any club related to an area of your interest can provide opportunities to connect with others. The trick is to ensure that everyone in your club knows who you are, what your skills are, and what you're interested in career-wise. Take the time to learn the same information about your fellow club members so you can be of help to them if the opportunity arises. Join a club or organization right here at York: There are hundreds of clubs and organizations on campus and some of these are related to potential future career paths. For example:
- The Actuarial Students Association
- The Undergraduate Political Science Council
- The Pre-Optometry Club
- Amnesty International at York University
These clubs are run by York students interested in a specific industry or occupation and who often work to organize events and activities of interest to those wanting to enter the field.
Teams are also a great way to meet new people...
...and they’re a great way to demonstrate valuable skills to potential employers, like how well you’re able to work with others to achieve a common goal. They show your motivation and your ability to manage your studies while participating in extra-curricular activities and, of course, they provide you with a source of new connections as you add your fellow team members to your network!
- Join an online community: You probably already use social media like Facebook or Twitter, so you likely already have an online presence — but are you using it to help your future career? Think about your privacy settings….Since most people are familiar with social networks, it's important to have a solid understanding of your privacy settings and what is appropriate to communicate to potential employers…and what's not. Obviously, your growing professional network having access to your spring break photos is not only unnecessary, but it may also even damage your reputation now and in the future — so make sure you know who has access to what! Create an online profile specifically for professional purposes consider setting up a LinkedIn profile. While Facebook is primarily a social tool, LinkedIn was specifically developed to help you build and maintain a solid network of professionals in your field, and to aid employers in finding you.
Resources to Help you Explore Volunteer Opportunities
Search for “volunteer opportunities” through Experience York (Career Centre’s online job posting system).
Meet organizations with a variety of opportunities to get involved and build career-related skills at the Career Centre’s annual Volunteer Fair.
Visit these websites to find out about volunteer opportunities in your area:
- Volunteer Canada
- Charity Village
- Volunteer Toronto
- Volunteer MBC
- Volunteer Ontario
- Volunteer Match
Visit these websites to find out about volunteer opportunities around the globe:
- York International
- Volunteer World
- United Nations Volunteers
- Transitions Abroad
- International Volunteer HQ
- What Questions Should You Ask Before Volunteering?
- 10 Questions To Ask Before You Volunteer
- Article: How To Find The Ideal Place To Volunteer
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