How to find meaningful volunteer and service work
- Explore careers
- Develop skills
- Gain diverse experiences
- Develop your network/connections
- Discover yourself
- Develop your sense of purpose
- Improve your health (social, mental, physical, spiritual)
- Identify new opportunities (for personal life & career)
- Have positive impact on a community
Identifying Your Cause(s)
- What do I like to do? What are my hobbies?
- Ex: sports, music, work with kids, etc.
- What causes(s) am I interested in?
- Ex: education, the arts, cancer, autism, nutrition, etc.
- What population(s)/group(s) am I interested in working with?
- Ex: children, seniors, individuals with disabilities, animals
- What skills do I wish to obtain/develop?
- Ex: communication skills, leadership, language, etc.
- What are my goals?
- Ex: learn more about a career, give back to a community, broaden experiences, gain new perspective
Finding Opportunities (Key Resources)
- MIT Priscilla King Gray Service Center
- United Way
- Boston Cares
- People Making a Difference
- Explore MIT Opportunities
- Consider your finances!
- You may have to pay fees to volunteer abroad.
- You may be able to make a greater impact volunteering in your local community, and staying within your financial means.
Developing Your Own Proposal
- Think outside of the box.
- Listen to needs of organization/community.
- Create project that is mutually beneficial and sustainable.
Managing Your Time
- How much time do you have? Be realistic!
- What days and times you are available to volunteer?
- How will you balance volunteering with other activities?
- Don’t over-commit. Start small, and grow! Otherwise, it may be a disappointing experience for you and the organization.
- There is no magic number of hours. How much you time you dedicate will depend on your unique schedule and priorities!
- Complete time management exercises to assess your schedule.
Contacting Organizations to Get Started
- Do your research on the organization.
- Think of/suggest ways you can be helpful. Don’t create work for the organization to fit you into the picture.
- Follow instructions on organization website.
- Fill out volunteer form -OR-
- Send email with “elevator pitch.”
- Follow-up with a phone call.
- Assess responsiveness of organization.
- Consider timeframe.
- When do you want to get started?
- How long it will take for the organization to have you up and running?
Maximize Your Experience (Personally & Professionally)
- Volunteer not just because you think you “should” or because it is merely self-serving, but because you have a sincere motivation to help others.
- Ensure that your efforts meet the community needs.
- Step outside of the MIT bubble if you can, and engage with the surrounding community.
- Create structure, meaning track what you accomplish and take initiative, just like you would in an internship or job.
- Take time to reflect on your experience. Consider what you learned about yourself and how it might influence your future direction.
- Keep a journal; log 2-3 things you learn each time.
- These examples will help with job or graduate / health / professional school interviews.