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How to Have the Best Possible Volunteer Experience

Volunteering is an easy way to add to your resume and network with people who may be able to help you further your career later on! It’s also a no-risk way to get to know the culture of nonprofit work environments. It gets you involved in the community and is a hands-on learning experience that can teach you about social issues. Here are some tips for maximizing your volunteer experience.

  1. Volunteer with student organizations or other students to make new friends.

UMKC’s Student Environmental Coalition volunteers for clean-up days. Sororities and fraternities raise money for different causes. The Residence Hall Association collects items for food drives. There are many opportunities to participate with others! 

  1. Pick a cause that you’re passionate about.

You’ll get more out of the experience if you care about its impact. Choose something that you enjoy doing or that you want to learn more about. If you don’t know where to start, then check out Nonprofit Connect! It’s a local site with listings for tons of different nonprofits in the KC area. Uncover KC also has listings for creative volunteer opportunities on their event calendar. Think of a cause you’d like to support, then search it up on their website!

  1. Set a goal for yourself.

How many volunteer hours do you want to have by the end of the year? Do you want to reach a certain position within the organization? It’s okay if you can’t consistently volunteer the same amount of hours, but it’s good to set a reasonable goal for yourself so that you have something to work toward. During the school year, I try to volunteer 10 hours a month. This is a manageable goal for me, but it’s okay if my workload is heavier during one month and I’m unable to reach my target.

  1. Sign up for the mailing lists of different organizations so you know what events they have going on.

This way, you’ll be the first to hear about new volunteer opportunities and you won’t need to constantly check their website. 

  1. Make it a point to get to know the people you’re volunteering with.

Even if you came in solo, volunteering is a great way to make new friends and meet people from diverse backgrounds. Volunteering is about community –– not just helping a community, but also building one with the people around you.

  1. Keep track of your volunteer hours in an organized log.

I keep a spreadsheet with a list of the volunteer location, the time and date of my volunteer shift, how many hours I worked and who can confirm it if I need documentation. You can also list your supervisor’s phone number so you have it at the ready if it becomes necessary. This will also be helpful if you want to recommend this organization to others.

Kansas City has so many amazing nonprofits that work to solve all sorts of social issues. You can start somewhere new, or you can participate in campus community service. Either way, you’re making a difference and setting yourself up for success.

Lauren Textor is a junior at the University of Missouri-Kansas City who is studying English. In her free time, she enjoys hiking, painting, and sight-seeing at possibly haunted locations.
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