April 18, 2017
This April 21-23, 2017 is Global Youth Service Day, an event celebrated worldwide by more than 100 countries and over a million organizations and institutions, all to highlight the impact volunteering youth around the world make in their communities.
Due to the ever-increasing popularity of service hours required by schools, more teenagers are involving themselves in community service work. Jobs such as babysitting, coaching and administrative work are available to youth who want to make a difference.
The YMCA of Metro Chicago’s Director of Volunteerism Linda Dean offers up some tips for teens searching for opportunities to volunteer their skills and time.
1. “Begin your search exactly where you are.” Youth may already be involved in a charity or nonprofit that offers volunteer work. Whether it’s a spiritual meeting place (church, mosque, synagogue, etc.), a family member’s job or even your local Y, teens should look into the places they frequent to see if they accept youth volunteers.
If there aren’t any positions available, expand your search to nearby neighborhoods. Sites like ChicagoCares and VolunteerMatch refine search results by age and zip code, making it easy to find one-time and long-term opportunities!
2. “Don’t wait until the last minute to start looking.” Many volunteer positions require the same application process as a full-time job. Teens may be required to provide recommendation letters, come in for an interview or complete a background check.
High school juniors and seniors who need service hours for graduation should apply for volunteer positions no later than 6-8 months before the school’s deadline to ensure students finish on time without placing a burden on themselves or volunteer supervisors.
3. “Be responsible and take the initiative.” Volunteer jobs are often a teen’s first job before entering the workforce. Linda Dean emphasizes the importance of students pursuing positions on their own without relying on parents to procure them on their behalf. Teens should be the ones to email or call volunteer coordinators and should continue to display this level of independence throughout their time in the position..
4. “Treat your volunteer work as a real job.” Teens are expected to dress appropriately based on where they’re working, arrive to their location on time and contact their supervisor in the event of an emergency. Volunteers may be terminated from their position at any time, so students should be serious and respectful about their work.
The entire month of April is also National Volunteer Month and organizations all over the city are opening their doors for volunteers of all ages, making this a fantastic time for teens to step out and begin the journey as community volunteers.