Hey! I bet you’re interested in volunteering or getting involved in your community but aren’t sure what you want to do or how to find the right opportunity, amirite?
Well, here are a few tips to get you started.
Step 1: What do you like? Do you have hobbies (and, yes, checking out the latest fashion and food trends on insta count)? How do you spend your spare time? Are there social issues that get you all fired up? Do you like sports? Animals? Reading? Cooking? Finding an opportunity that fits with your interests will help keep you motivated. You could also think about volunteering with a pal … because everything’s more fun with friends!
Step 2: Connect the dots. You like food? Join or start a local Slow Food chapter in your area. If animals are your bag, check out the volunteer opportunities at the local SPCA. Not sure how to link your passion with a cause? Hit the net! We have lots of great opportunities posted on our site (and they’re all guaranteed to be youth-friendly). Go Volunteer is another great resource. So are Volunteer Edmonton, Youth Central and Volunteer Alberta.
Step 3: Talk to someone. Think you’ve found a cause that floats your boat? Get the ball rolling by contacting the Volunteer Coordinator. Most orgs will list the Volunteer Coordinator’s contact info on their website. If not, just call the main office and they’ll connect you. Ask the coordinator some questions … start with something like “Hi I’m (your name). I’m 16 years old and I am interested in volunteering with your organization. I’m wondering what kind of volunteer positions are available?”. The Volunteer Coordinator will know what opportunities exist for people your age and will help you determine if those opportunities are a good fit with your interests.
Step 4: Paperwork. Once you’ve found a match, you will likely be asked to fill out an application form. The form helps the Volunteer Coordinator get to know you a bit better and usually asks for some basic information about you, your interests, your abilities and the amount of time you are willing to commit. If you need help filling out the form, ask your parents, a teacher, the volunteer coordinator or someone else you trust to give you good advice. You may also be asked to submit a resume and/or do an interview. This usually happens more with long-term volunteer gigs where the commitment is sorta like a part-time job. The interviewer will likely ask you questions about yourself, your interests and your experience.
Step 5: Get going! Once you and the organization have agreed that it’s a match made in heaven, it’s time to get volunteering. You’re going to want to make sure your 5-10 minutes early for your first shift, so make sure you have a ride or know how to get there on the bus, train, plane, automobile, donkey etc. That extra time will help you manage those first day jitters. Hang up your coat, grab a nametag and let your new adventure begin! Your first shift will most likely involve some sort of training. Make sure you ask questions if you’re unsure about anything. Some good ones include: Where are the bathrooms? Do I get a break? Who do I report to if I have questions? Do I need to check out before I leave? It’s normal to be a bit nervous at first but don’t worry, it won’t take long for you to feel right at home and start having loads of fun. Just think of all the super cool peeps you’ll meet!