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Volunteering is one of the best ways to gain work experience. If you are under 16 or have yet to land your first job, consider donating your time to a cause you care about! Here’s how you can get started:

People volunteer for many reasons. Regardless of the reason, volunteering provides valuable job skills as well as giving you the feeling of giving back. If you’re thinking about volunteering with a local organization, it important that you find a cause you support.

  1.  Make a match. Find a good cause that you care about. Do a bit of research to see what kind of volunteer opportunities exist with that cause. Are they things you’d be okay with doing for free? Is the schedule something that could fit in with your school work? While this isn’t a “job” the people who you work with could become references on your resume, so you want to put your best foot forward no matter what.
  2. Prepare. Some places will ask you to fill out an application to volunteer. This is really similar to a job application (Hey! It’s good practice!).  They basically want to know the same information. Are you a good fit for the position? Can you do the work that needs to be done? If you did the first step correctly, this part should be a breeze. Be sure to explain why YOU want to volunteer at the organization. If this is a cause you really care about, that should be easy.
  3. Keep up. If you don’t hear back from a volunteer opportunity, don’t feel bad. Many local nonprofits are run with a few dedicated staff members, so things move a little slower than you’d expect. Keep up with them on social media or via newsletters in case they have a need you could fill.
  4. Take notes. At the end of each day you volunteer, take note of any skills or tasks that you did well. If there is something you enjoyed doing, it could be a sign! Keep these notes someplace safe, since you’ll want to refer back to this list when it comes time to update your resume.

If you’d like to get started volunteering, here are a few great sites that post opportunities regularly: