Written by Gabriella Nuñez
There are only two instances in which one does free labor: internships and volunteering. The latter is usually underappreciated.
Volunteering is more than community service; it is an opportunity to gain experience and skills that you may have not otherwise been exposed to.
Although serving at the soup kitchen or bathing puppies at your local Humane Society is noble work, they’re not exactly resume toppers. These deeds can give you perspective; maybe ignite some passion for non-profit work and better people-or pet- skills. The professionalism stretches only so far though.
To make the most out of volunteering you have to think outside of the box.
Perhaps you’re a budding artist trying to master the art of photography or a historian looking to see how you can apply your love of what came before to everyday life. Check out local museums in your area to see if they have any volunteer programs.
Tasks can range from giving tours, assisting with family days or partaking in museum marketing. It can be extremely beneficial for those looking to study the liberal arts or communications and you’ll be exposed to skills and information that can make you a well-rounded and informed individual.
Maybe the health field is more your forte. When studying anything for the medical field volunteering is a must, might as well get a head start.
Perhaps you know your specialization: occupational therapy for geriatrics, physical therapy for athletes or pediatrics. Apart from volunteering at local hospitals look into coaching little league and being trained in first-aid, check out a Red Cross location in your area or a local specialized clinic or doctor’s office. Keep in mind that there is no time wasted and being exposed to real career experience can help you decide if it really fits you.
If going toward the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) route, make sure to do your research.
Local university professors are always working on their next project and there are plenty of businesses and firms that need a helping hand. Send an e-mail to an engineering professor at Florida International University or consider going back to a nearby high school and assisting with their science and math summer programs to give fresh eyes and a new outlook.
If none of these seem to fit your personality, just ask.
Don’t be afraid to get into contact with places you see yourself working at. Maybe you really want an internship, but you missed a deadline (oops). Make a phone call and mention that you wouldn’t mind lending some time to get a feel for the workplace. The word internship can seem more intimidating and competitive but could end up being similar in work to a volunteer’s.
Just keep a fresh outlook and take advantage of volunteer opportunities when you see them. They are usually more beneficial than originally thought.
General list of places to volunteer
1. Museums (History, art, science)
2. Doctor’s Offices (private or public clinics)
3. Non-profit offices (Women of Tomorrow, Planned Parenthood)
4. Schools (sports, recreation, summer camps, educational programs)
5. Public areas (parks, zoos, universities)