My regular readers already know that I’ve been looking for a job. However, I haven’t yet described the pleasures of finding things to do when I’m not writing cover letters, submitting resumes, searching employment listings, networking, and completing all sorts of other fun stuff.
For some pursuits, I don’t need to affiliate with an organization; for example, I have this nifty little blog. But if I want to volunteer somewhere, I need a “somewhere.”
And that’s where things get tricky…
I currently have a volunteer position I very much enjoy and the organization seems happy with me. I do work that I could never get hired to do for money because, according to HR departments, one cannot possess a set of skills unless one has a degree in the relevant subject. (I’ve touched on the topic in this post.) It took a very long time to get me on board with this organization, partly because snow tends to halt everything down here… but the organization did manage to get me through the process.
But things aren’t always that simple. I’ve bounced around between volunteer positions and tried to pursue others. I’ve received the same line about being “overqualified” because of my Ph.D. that I get from potential employers. Could someone please explain to me how a person can be overqualified to volunteer?
And then there are the cute little people who keep volunteer organizations staffed. Or not. A lot of volunteer organizations are swamped and they don’t always have the time to bring in new people. That’s right. When you have too much work to do, your lowest priority should be adding more people to share the burden. I’ve seen and heard about this again and again and again.
Sometimes, organizations look like they’ve grasped the concept of adequate personnel. And then they bring in new volunteers for orientation (or an equivalent) right at the end of busy season when there will soon be no more work to do. They give you a tour and forget about you until fundraising time comes. Then you hear from them, but they don’t want to talk to you about actually doing something.
Let’s review: wasting my time does not incline me to donate my nonexistent money to your organization.
Or sometimes they do have work for you, but they dangle one job function in front of you and, once you’ve signed up, change the offer. In theory, I’m okay with this because volunteering should be about doing what needs to be done. In practice, I found (the one time this happened to me) that the real task was something I should not be asked to do.
If you need me to tutor kids, I’m good at that; when you change the assignment to “be a fun guy and take them to the Bieber concert,” there’s a problem. I’m not good at feigning enthusiasm and I can pretty well promise you that attending a Bieber concert with me would not be a positive experience for those kids. I mean, for reasons other than the performer…
Yeah… I’d rather deal with math homework than Justin Bieber. But, come to think of it, so would everyone else. Maybe that’s why the organization needed a volunteer for the concert. My bad.