Virtual volunteering can help you feel fulfilled and learn new skills while searching for a remote job. This post will give you the information you need to find an online volunteer position that works for you.
Virtual Volunteering and Its Remote Work Advantages
Volunteering has benefits that reach far beyond helping you prepare for a good-paying job. It can help you feel connected to your community, meet new people, and gain a greater sense of gratitude. Volunteering can also help you find your professional or personal calling. If you are struggling to connect with your current career, experimenting with volunteer positions is an excellent way to find out what you love to do.
There are thousands of organizations in the U.S. and abroad who need your help. Although most people volunteer locally to experience their impact on the community in which they live, you can also volunteer online and spread social good. Many nonprofit organizations are funded through a patchwork of grants that provide resources for them to run programs and employ people. However, there are often a variety of gaps in service that organizations do not have the capacity to hire people to fill. This is where volunteers come in. Volunteers provide free service to organizations where they need it most.
Online volunteers can play a huge role in increasing visibility for an organization’s cause by helping with social media community building, website design and maintenance, online organizing, scheduling, grant writing and so much more. The limits of what you can do to give back are reduced by the internet in very exciting ways. You can help tutor children, give online classes to seniors and help train staff in new technology all from your home space.
Whether you are a college student looking to gain work experience, looking to make a career transition or a retiree who want to give back without the travel, online volunteering is an excellent choice for anyone who wants to give back.
If you have skills you want to share with nonprofit organizations, the first step is to determine what kind of organization you want to work with. If you are interested in partnering with health-related organizations that work to cure diseases such as ALS or you are interested in advocating for justice in the prison system there are many organizations that tackle these complex issues.
Using Virtual Volunteering for Career Development
To develop a skill you have just acquired, you can find organizations willing to assist you. This is especially true for jobseekers interested in nonprofit work as a career. Volunteering with a nonprofit organization is an excellent idea to build your resumé. However, even if you are not interested in nonprofit work, volunteering can reflect positively on your resumé.
When framing volunteer positions in the context of the job search process, you should focus on the particular skills and verifiable tasks you worked on most.
If your volunteer organization is open to it, they can give you recommendations on Linkedin or write a letter of recommendation for you as you transition to a new position. This kind of co-sign has a huge effect within the remote working world where reputation weighs heavily.
It is best to only list volunteer experience that links to the job for which you are applying. If you are worried about significant gaps in your work history, you can create another section specifically for volunteer experience. Here, you can place all your nonrelated career experience.
Aside from resumé benefits, volunteering helps to build your reputation around the work you want to do. When you want to work from home, employers will likely require some familiarity with working remotely. This is where your virtual volunteer experience can shine.
Doing your best and being consistent will give you the ability to earn the trust of the organization. You will gain a valuable network of professional contacts for future job recommendations. The more people can confirm your skillset, the more likely you are to secure a virtual job.
If you have trouble deciding where you should start, take a look at the categories below to find suitable options for your virtual volunteering adventure.
Virtual writing volunteers are responsible for tasks like grant writing for small nonprofits and writing emails, program descriptions, and more. Writers who have experience freelancing will find virtual volunteering in this field to be less stressful. Virtual volunteering in writing is also a great place to start as a new writer looking to build their confidence and brand. Once you have a portfolio of work that organizations will endorse, you can attract paying clients or search for higher-paying remote writing positions online.
Oversight and management for social media profiles can be expensive and taxing for organizations that lack the capacity to do it themselves. Social media job skills earned through virtual volunteering will translate well into paid work in social media marketing. This is because volunteering to help an organization build their social media presence not only helps them raise more money and support, but also gives you real-world examples of your work and strategy. You can use these examples when applying for telecommuting jobs and it will have a huge impact on your hireability and pay range.
If you are interested in online education, instructional design or another ed-tech field, tutoring could be your window of opportunity. Many afterschool and senior care organizations looking to recruit volunteers to provide virtual tutoring or computer help to students or residents. You may be able to design your own curriculum or material.
Often in volunteering opportunities, you have much more flexibility to be creative and try things you could not in a traditional job. Take full advantage of the chance to teach and learn from your students about what works and what doesn’t. This kind of critical thinking could go a long way when answering application questions about your experiences in education.
If you are new to coding or have designed a few sites in the past, start-ups, small businesses, and nonprofits could use your help. You can work on small projects or help with a redesign, depending on the skills you can bring to the table. The great thing about volunteer work is that organizations are often willing to allow you to learn on the job and develop your skills while you simultaneously cultivate a relationship with the organization.
Online Community Organizing
For jobseekers interested in community organizing, politics or journalism, online community organizing could be a fitting volunteer experience. Advocacy organizations look to spread the word about their causes using social media, email newsletters, virtual live events, and more. If you know how to get people excited about a cause and create authentic connections online, this is an excellent opportunity to showcase your talents.
How to Get Started
Once you decide what kind of virtual volunteering project is of interest to you, you should consider how much time per week or per month you have to devote to volunteering. Organizations value consistency so you want to ensure that you can fulfill your obligations. As a virtual volunteer, you will often be able to set your own schedule but some organizations may have a minimum amount of time per month that they prefer volunteers to commit.
Further considerations include the kind of population benefiting from your volunteering. If you are interested in working with children, you will need to obtain a level 2 background check. This may require additional steps on your part. Even if you are working virtually, organizations take child safety seriously and want to make sure that their community is protected.
Additionally, it is a great idea to do research on the reputation of the organization you choose. There are usually hundreds of organizations working on the same issue. However, not every organization will approach their work in the same manner. You want to know that the group you choose does not go against your values by participating in exploitative practices. You can find information on most nonprofits using Charity Navigator.
Once you narrow down your search, you will want to reach out to the organization. Usually, nonprofits will have a designated volunteer coordinator to oversee the process of onboarding. You will likely need to complete an online orientation or virtual interview. This can be simply reading through a prepared packet of information, watching a video or it could include a virtual webinar hosted by organization staff.
Treat Volunteering Like Any Other Job
Once you’re on board, don’t lose sight of your goal simply because you are not getting paid. Financial stress can have a significant impact on your mental state. However, if you can afford to volunteer, treat the opportunity as you would a good-paying job. Not only do organizations deserve this level of professionalism, but you will also get much more out of your experience if you are diligent, responsible, and meet expectations. This is how you set yourself up for the glowing recommendations you need to land your next telecommuting job.
When you are ready to translate your experience into paid work, Virtual Vocations has thousands of vetted job openings for your consideration.
iStock Photo Credit: 1. ArtemSam; 2. Eoneren
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