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Emily Co

SFU Student
Arts + Social Sciences › Psychology, Beedie School of Business

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Here are six tips that help you decide how to make the most out of your volunteer opportunity.

When looking for ways to get involved with SFU and your community, it may often times lead you to ask – where do I even start? How should I do this?

While finding the ideal volunteer opportunity may take a while, it’s definitely worth the time to learn of the options out there before committing to an organization. Whether you are looking to challenge yourself, learn new skills, or perhaps use prior experience to support a cause, remember to take a step back and reflect on your needs, interests, and skills in order to determine a good fit for you. The more satisfied you are in your role, the better and longer your contributions will be.

Here are 6 tips to help you identify some key factors in deciding how to make the most out of your volunteer opportunity:

1. Cause – Why do You Want to Volunteer? Which Organization/Cause Resonates With You?

To get started, first try to understand why you want to volunteer. Are there certain social or environmental issues that are most important to you? Maybe you want to expand your network or gain transferrable skills. Whatever the reason, figure out what motivates you and from there, decide which organizations to participate in that support those causes. If you have trouble deciding how to take the first step, SFU offers a series of workshops through their “Passport to Leadership” program aimed at helping you learn more about yourself, what leadership is, and also of the various volunteer opportunities available on campus.

2. Activity – What Kinds of Duties do You Want to do?

There are many different types of activities that you can get involved with during your volunteer experience, again depending on your interests and how you want to assist others. If you are interested in supporting your peers through tutoring, outreach programs, or one-to-one guidance, consider joining the Peer Education program at SFU. Those interested in mentoring new students can think about joining the several mentorship programs offered here at SFU.

3. Skills – What Skills do You Have That can be Used to Help People? Which Skills do You Want to Work on and Which do You Want to Gain?

After deciding on the cause and activities, you may want to reflect on the current skills you can offer and which skills you want to gain.  Volunteering is a great way for you to discover things you might be good at, or to develop new skills that can be beneficial for future career options.

4. People – What Kinds of People do You Want to Work With? Who do You Want to Serve/Help?

As well, try to find out what kind of atmosphere you would like to volunteer in, both in terms of which kinds of people you want to work with and also which group you want to serve. For example, if you want to get involved with the student-led clubs at SFU, you may want to choose one where you can meet people who share like-minded values and interests with you.

5. Location – Where Will You be Working? Will it be in Person or Online/Virtual?

Consider the place that you want to volunteer at – will it be on or off-campus? Make sure to think about how you will get there and how long it may take. There are also online volunteer opportunities that conveniently allow you to work at home via the internet, called “micro volunteering”. This is a more low commitment and a quicker way to help an organization by working on a variety of tasks such as graphic design, fundraising, marketing, or writing.

6.  Time – How Long do You Want to Volunteer for? How Many Days a Week can You Commit?

Think about how much time you have to offer and what your current commitments are – will you have time to balance it all? There are different levels of commitments, such as short or long-term volunteering, that you can choose to fit in with your schedule. Some examples of short-term volunteering include special events, marathons, or festivals that may only extend over a few days or weeks. Long-term volunteering usually requires that you commit 6 months or more and may include tasks that require more experience and responsibility.

Regardless of what you choose, you are still giving your time to make a difference and that’s what counts! Remember to have fun in your volunteer role, but to also keep in mind that you should be prepared to give your best efforts and energy to assist those in need. Hopefully, after reading this article, you will have narrowed down some options to find the right volunteer opportunity for you!

  • Emily Co Apr 9, 2014
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About the Author

Emily Co

SFU Student
Arts + Social Sciences › Psychology, Beedie School of Business
Emily is a 4th year Psychology/Business student who currently volunteers as part of the Peer Health Education team at SFU. Over the summer, she completed a co-op term as a Development Intern at Gateway Theatre. She has previously volunteered with Welcome Day, SFU International Mentorship Program and SFU CLCS Program. In her free time, she enjoys dancing, good food, and meeting new people. Feel free to connect with Emily on LinkedIn.

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