Volunteer Guide: How to Have a Meaningful Volunteer Experience
Volunteering is one-way individuals can give back to society and make a positive impact in the end. Besides that, the participants also benefit from the program through gaining new experience, new skills, networking, etc. So how then does one maximize their volunteer experience or instead make it more meaningful in the end? Below are some of the primary factors worth considering.
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Participate in programs you’re passionate about
One essential factor in finding volunteer programs suitable for you is participating in activities you love and standing for the cause. Volunteering usually becomes more
enjoyable where there is motivation and drive. In the end, you’ll be more productive, inspired, and most importantly, contribute positively towards the volunteer program.
Be frank about your experience.
One of the most fundamental things worth emulating before enrolling in a volunteer program is honesty. Being candid about your qualifications and experience is vital before signing up for any volunteer exercise.
As the saying goes, honesty is the best policy. Some volunteers often come on board to make a positive impact; however, they end up biting more than they can chew when given specific volunteer roles. In the end, rather than being productive, they end up as dead weight in a team. Being upfront about how long you’ll commit, the specifics you’re comfortable with, your personal goals, etc., is essential if you want to fit where you’ll most likely be efficient and, in the long run, achieve the goals and objectives of the team.
Define your objectives
Besides the team’s long-term and short-term goals and objectives, setting your own before coming on board is essential. This usually creates a clear picture of whether you’re the perfect fit for the volunteer exercise. In other words, both your goals and the volunteer program’s should be compatible, if not the same. Ask yourself, why am I volunteering? Is it about passion, or am I in it to acquire specific skills or broaden my professional network? If your answers are similar or relatable to those of the volunteer program’s primary cause, then you’re on the right track. It’s normally easier to find volunteer programs based on what your objectives and goals are.
Commitment is key
You should dedicate yourself entirely to a volunteer guide to be a success. This involves adhering to your work schedule, being on time, paying attention to and assisting visitors as required. Also, always ensure that you perform all assigned tasks in the most efficient manner possible.
Readiness to embrace the whole experience
Being a volunteer is often a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that you will cherish for the rest of your life. Learning new skills, meeting people from different backgrounds, and experiencing life from a different perspective is usually worth it in the end. It’s therefore essential having an open mind and willingness to embrace new experiences.
Be adaptable and receptive to new ideas.
Being open to learning is the best way to get the most out of your volunteer experience, particularly if you’re in a new country or community. Plans can change at any time; an organization’s staff or volunteers can also change regularly. In other words, things may be handled differently than you’re used to. Its, therefore, necessary for you to adjust to evolving situations by being open-minded and ready to move outside of your comfort zone if necessary.
Having a proper Communication system
The first step to finding volunteer programs suitable for you is to keep the conversation going at all times. Before enrolling in a volunteer program, ask plenty of questions about work hours, your duties, how long you’ll stay, and where you’ll be staying. Be clear and open about any goals you have from the start. It’s also essential to communicate with your host about any issues that occur or something you’re upset with while volunteering. Proper communication is often the solution to many problems, hence proper feedback is key to any volunteer programs success.
Make sure you avail yourself from the beginning to the end of the volunteer program.
Respond to your host’s messages, clarify any other responsibilities or duties. Show a willingness to assist and perform various activities, complete your duration of stay as per the agreement, and last but not least, never leave your host hanging.
Have realistic expectations
Expectations are another way of defining whether your volunteer work was a success or not. Participants should always go into the program with high optimism and low expectations. For instance, you might find that perhaps the capacity you enrolled in was short-term and regardless of all your efforts, you left when your team didn’t achieve the main objective. If that is the case, be realistic enough to pat yourself on the back and view the glass as half full rather than half empty.
Volunteer programs should strive to be more of a learning experience for participants rather than goal-oriented, especially if they’re short-term. Having realistic expectations is therefore essential before you engage in any volunteer work.
Keep a record of everything you discover
An excellent volunteer guide entails documenting your whole experience and keeping track of your volunteer activities and what you’ve learned along the way. This will not only assist you in adding your newly discovered skills and experience to your resume or cover letter, but it will also help you in describing them more eloquently to your colleagues, friends, and perhaps on an interview.
At the end of each day, always make a list of all the activities you’ve done, training you’ve got, the knowledge you’ve acquired, and most importantly, the experience you’ve had. You can also ask your bosses for references, as this will come in handy once you start applying for work.
Regardless of whether you’re volunteering locally or abroad, long-term or short-term, maximizing your experience is of paramount importance not only for the program’s primary goals and objectives but also for you as an individual. We hope this article was informative enough when discussing the various factors, you should consider when it comes to having a meaningful volunteer experience.