While looking for jobs and/or internships, you should definitely keep an eye out for opportunities to become a volunteer coordinator. I have been working as a volunteer coordinator for a local non-profit for the last 9 months and I absolutely love it! This type of position is ideal experience for students. Students can get their feet wet in a number of skills, such as networking, management, interpersonal communication, marketing, and community outreach.
My position as a volunteer coordinator requires me to be a liaison to over 300 volunteers in the Portland metro area. Communicating with that many members of the community means on-going networking with individuals in all sorts of positions. Many of the people who I coordinate with are leaders in the community such as politicians and non-profit program directors. These constant networking opportunities are great because I get to make valuable connections with people in the professional field that I’m interested in. These connections are also helpful for the organization I’m interning with because it provides a framework to build community coalitions on.
I’m also in charge of recruitment and screening of potential volunteers, as well as providing training and support. This management experience has taught me how to be a point-of-contact and hospitality leader. Before this internship I had no idea how much recognition and appreciation means to volunteers and employees. I’ve learned that it’s necessary to make personal appreciations for everyone’s efforts in an organization and how to coordinate appreciation events to address this need.
Managing volunteers also calls for the ability to draw on volunteers’ skill sets for special organizational projects or events. This means actively communicating with volunteers and effectively getting to know aspects of their lives, like their special talents and what their work schedules look like. I communicate regularly with volunteers through physical check-ins, phone calls, and emails. In order to fully conceptualize and keep track of volunteer information, I’ve been trained to create and utilize spreadsheet applications to maintain a list of the organization’s volunteers. I also utilize my data entry skills to schedule and log volunteer hours for the organization—which is vital to secure grants for a non-profit. Although communication and data entry skills are particularly helpful for me to have as a future social worker, these skills would come in handy for any future job.
After learning so much about management and gaining experiential knowledge during this internship, I would fully recommend this type of experience to other students. I feel more equipped to work with the community and with staff in the future. I’m also more confident with my skills in communication and networking—which could help me secure a full-time job when I finish up school.
Written by Lissy, a senior Social Work major