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Before You Volunteer, Ask Yourself These Questions

Lifetime skills can match the right opportunity

By Corporation for National and Community Service | May 16, 2012

Service is a big commitment and incredibly rewarding — both to you and those you serve. Finding the opportunity that best suits your skills and expectations can make all the difference in your experience.

Here are some questions to ask yourself before you sign up to serve.
 
Do you have a passion?

  • Do you love sports or outdoor pursuits, or would you rather be involved in issues pertaining to local or national heritage?
  • Do you care deeply about environmental and conservation issues and want to focus your efforts in that area?
  • Are you interested in working in a healthcare or mental health setting?
  • Do you prefer working with children, young people, or older adults?

How much time can you give?
  • Can you serve during the week, or does your schedule limit the amount of time you can commit?
  • Can you make a minimum one-year commitment?

What do you bring or want to acquire?
  • What skills do you bring? For example, are your skills and interests more administrative and managerial? Would you want to help run an organization?
  • Are you willing to go through a training program?
  • Is service a way for you to get practical training and experience to help you get a job, or to get certification or credentials for a current job or educational pursuit?
  • What do you hope to gain from the experience, building skills, helping people, working on a team, making friends?

Where and how do you want to serve?
  • Would you like to work with someone on a one-on-one basis, such as mentoring a teen or helping an adult learn to read?
  • Do you prefer working in a group—as part of a team—such as helping to renovate a community center or preparing and serving food at a homeless shelter?
  • Are you comfortable responding to situations as they arise, or do you need to know what to expect when you come in?
  • What supports, such as transportation or child care, would you need?
  • Would you like to work independently on issues such as creating community assets or developing local agencies’ abilities to serve their communities better?

Benefits of service
  • Do you want to acquire qualities of leadership and gain a sense of satisfaction from taking on responsibilities that directly affect peoples' lives?
  • Do you want to learn new skills that can help you prepare for a job?
  • Do you want to earn an Education Award to pay off qualified student loans or to finance college, graduate school, or vocational training?
  • Do you want to help your community, help yourself and make a difference in the lives of someone in need?
  • Do you want to earn a small stipend for your regular service?

Resources: 
Corporation for National and Community Service

VolunteerMatch

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