Even though there are volunteer jobs like the Peace Corps which require you to spend two years in a foreign country helping people, or AmeriCorps, which does the same thing in the United States, not all volunteering opportunities are long term. Just because there are short-term opportunities does not mean these opportunities do less good than the ones that last for years. Local volunteer jobs are an excellent way of giving back to the community, and there are even some home volunteer jobs that allow you to help without going a long distance.
Of course, if you choose, you could decide to follow a career in a non-profit sector and even make it a full-time job. While you would not be compensated quite as well for this kind of job as you would be in another career situation, the non-financial benefits are nothing short of incredible. For instance, people in the Peace Corps, in addition to their international experiences, also get federal hiring preference for government positions and help with their job search later.
Volunteering with AmeriCorps gives you financial awards to help with additional education, as well as stipends at the end of your service. Positions with the Red Cross, United Way, and other organizations all have their own benefits and you will know you are doing some good and making a difference in the world around you when working with these organizations.
If you are not ready to make volunteering your full-time job, however, there are plenty of other options. Most people who volunteer actually do so in their spare time. These part-time positions allow you to follow your dreams and deal with another job at the same time; they may even turn into full-time positions later. The Humane Society often hires exceptional volunteers, as do many other agencies. Plus, you will get people skills in your volunteer positions that will help you in other fields.
While volunteering often means you are offering your time and services for free, this is not always the case. Some volunteers get a small pay check, depending on the work they are doing and the organization for whom they work. Even if you are not being paid, you will get some great experience and you will be providing a lot of support to people in need.
There are all kinds of jobs out there, so it is easy to find a volunteer situation that suits you. If you love children, volunteer jobs with kids are easy to find. Many cities need people to work with children outside of school to provide them with role models and help them with social issues. If you prefer to work with animals, you could socialize with cats and walk dogs at your local shelter, help clean up and feed them, and even get a rehabilitation license so you can take care of wounded wildlife. Plenty of stranded deer and other animals need assistance each year, and someone needs to help them.
You may encounter some organizations that want you to pay for your volunteer experience. However, before you pay for this kind of experience, you need to think about it carefully and do some in-depth research. While there are a few organizations out there that have legitimate reasons for charging (they provide a lot of information or support), many others are simply scams. Check out every volunteer effort you are thinking about participating in.
There are many benefits to volunteering, so do not think you are only helping others in your spare time. Volunteering lets you take a look at some career fields and areas of life you may never have considered pursuing. You will also get the opportunity to develop some abilities and skills you would not have without the volunteer situation.
For instance, you will be able to improve your communication and interpersonal skills, work on leading others, and become more organized. Volunteering also helps you feel accomplished and fulfilled on a level that an ordinary office job usually cannot deliver. You will get a lot of personal rewards from volunteering along with your regular work, even if they cannot be measured or quantified. Volunteering is not just good for the world and your community—it is good for you, too.
So, if you are in a satisfying career, but you want to do a little something for others, there is no reason you should not take the time to find a part-time volunteer opportunity. It does not have to take a lot of time, and you will be compensated in incredible ways. You may or may not be paid, but you will definitely have amazing experiences and be able to develop your personal abilities while helping others.
Volunteer jobs such as local volunteer jobs may take a little bit of time and energy, but in the long run they are really worth it. Look in your area to see what kinds of volunteer opportunities are available to you. Almost every area has something, and there is a good chance it will be one that works for your life.