Monday, February 27, 2012

Working w/ unemployment : volunteering

I am currently unemployed. I'm very fortunate that this period of unemployment didn't catch me off guard, and that I have a huge amount of support to get through this as I pursue personal and professional goals. As such, my unemployment experience is likely fairly different than most of the millions of Americans currently out of work, but for all of us, it isn't easy.

This is the first post in a series called of how I am working with unemployment, how I'm managing my time and amplifying my job search, based on advice and research from others as well as my own experiences. For those of you also experiencing a similar transition or who have, I would love your input. For everyone else, I hope you don't have to involuntarily go through periods without work, but find this series of posts interesting nonetheless.

Probably one of the most prolific tips for job seekers is the need to do something when you go through a period of transition. There are a lot of "somethings" to do, but a great consideration is volunteering your time. There are always organizations in need, and with a little bit of research, you can find a volunteer position that is somehow relevant to your professional experience/goals.

I have volunteered with Habitat for Humanity of Greater Los Angeles for a few months now (full disclosure: my dad works there). Habitat for Humanity has some of the greatest "brand recognition" among non-profits, but if you aren't familiar, according to their mission statement, HFHGLA "builds and renovates homes in partnership with God and people everywhere with a goal of eliminating substandard housing by making decent, affordable housing a matter of conscience and action in our communities."

When most people think of volunteering for Habitat, they probably think of building houses, and rightly so. Building homes is at the core of the work that they do, and from what I've heard and read, volunteers with all levels of expertise are integral to that. At the same time, like many non-profits, they also need help in their offices. I've done some research projects, and mostly helped the marketing and communications team prepare for events, and helped at some events as well. I've gotten to meet both the staff members and volunteers dedicated to working towards housing equality, and the families and individuals in need of Habitat's services. As a personal experience, it has been incredibly rewarding to play even a small part in celebrating Habitat's hard work to put families into their own homes. As a professional experience, I am staying active in my career path and "doing something" as I seek a new full time position.

Whatever your reason for having free time, volunteering is a great way to spend it.

Looking for somewhere to volunteer? 
Habitat for Humanity: search for opportunities with your local affiliate
Idealist: includes volunteer and job openings
Volunteer Match: "making it easier for good people and good causes to connect"

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