Volunteering 101: Making Your Experience Memorable
We’ve all heard it before — “Volunteering looks good on college apps!” I mean... sure, it does help in some capacity. But you should also know that there is WAY more to the iceberg of volunteering than just listing a few cliche catchphrases under “Activities” on your application. Here’s a secret: it’s really a journey that will teach you more about yourself. Here are some tips to help you make the most out of your Interact experience. Let’s dive right in!
1) Identify your source of motivation
Most people find this hard to answer and it’s totally OK! Here are some questions to chew on: When I volunteer, am I driven by a simple desire to make someone else’s day? Would I still volunteer if I did not receive credit on volunteer logs? What do I want to get out of each volunteering experience?
2) Take the initiative
You can be a leader even in the small things. Instead of simply chilling with your friends, take the initiative and lend a hand even when you aren’t asked to do so. You will not only stand out in the crowd, but it will also build your character in all other aspects of your life!
3) Strike up meaningful conversations
Whether you might be simply handing out a snack at the Heart Walk or selling a Christmas tree to a family, make an effort to get to know who you are working with. Ask about their day and share about what yourself. Sometimes you might even meet a fellow boba enthusiast or book geek! Undoubtedly, you will meet many people who are different from you in age, gender, or life views, and that’s a fantastic place to be! Take the opportunity to broaden your perspective on the world outside of this static San Ramon landscape.
Did you know that when you joined Interact, you actually joined an entire global community? Next time you volunteer, look out for Rotarians, the adult sponsors of our club, and introduce yourself. You will find that many have super interesting professions — from being the CEO of a medical center to a financial analyst at a consulting firm. Either way, you could learn some very interesting things about your passions and potential future careers!
4) Think outside of the box
Always be on the lookout for ways to improve each volunteer event. Obviously, Interact events aren’t perfect because humans aren’t perfect, but we are always searching for ways to make each experience better than before! If you think of a more efficient/exciting event sign-in process, weekly meeting setup, or communications method, let us know! We love getting feedback.
5) Prepare what you need a day before
If you want to fully enjoy your volunteering experience, get rid of other distractions beforehand. Early shift the next day? Get off your phone before 1 AM. Standing in the sun? Bring sunscreen. Walking from door to door? Don’t wear heels. You get the point.
6) Balance your schedule responsibly
Don't bite off more than you can chew! When you sign up for an event, you are committing to it. If several events overlap, don’t sign up for all of them. Leave the shifts open for other people who are interested. And if you can’t make an event, let us know 48 hours beforehand, or there will be light penalties, and we really hate giving those out.
7) Be respectful
Know that you’re not just reping Cal High Interact, but Cal High as well! Put on your best behavior and treat others just as you would treat your family (ok, minus the sibling rivalry). As an Interact member, you are among the most dedicated, passionate, and hardworking students of this school, so give others that same impression!
8) Smile, the rest is up to you
To cut down all of the fluff, volunteering really comes down to what YOU want to make out of it. I get it. It sounds like another one of those inspirational speakers at school assemblies. But from experience, I assure you that it’s 100% true! There’s only so much I can share; the rest is really up to you!