Top Tips: Finding the Right Placement For You

Volunteering is definitely growing in popularity, with many people deciding to give up the beach holiday for a service-centered vacation. Other people choose to take time out of their work and dedicate months to an organization, really immersing themselves in the work. Whichever you choose, there is great value in volunteering for both you and the organization you volunteer for, so long as you pick the right placement for you. Here are our top tips for picking the right organization to result in a mutually beneficial experience:

 1)   Make a List of Your Skills

Write down the skills that you have that might be helpful to a non-profit organization. These could be anything from nursing skills, design, social media, cooking, gardening to people skills and language skills. Do not oversell your skills but also don’t undersell yourself. Skills that might come naturally to you may be something an organization really needs. The more honest a representation you give of yourself the more the organization can place you in the right project.

 2)   Think about locations

Whilst many Oaxacan organizations are based in the city center, some are further out requiring travel or obliging you to live in isolated communities where you may be the only foreigner. Again, be honest with yourself, whilst living in an indigenous community with very little outside communication can sound romantic, it can also be lonely and isolating. Think about how you deal with being alone, surviving without the internet etc., then consider if your languages skills are up to it. You may decide it is perfect for you or you may want to be more city-based or perhaps the perfect solution would be to find an organization that would offer you a mixture of the two.

Office Work

3)   Office or Field?

Development workers seem to be divided into two types of people:

1)   Office-based: Love the planning of projects or the development of social media and websites, or writing policy and lobbying government etc

2)   Field workers: Love being out in the field, implementing projects, getting their hands dirty and generally avoiding the office at all costs.

Which one are you? Identifying which best represents you will help both you and the organization to decide what kind of project is perfect for you

 4) Ask lots of questions

Before speaking to the organization that you are interested in working for, make a list of questions. The more questions you ask the clearer you will be about the work that you are going to do. It is easy to fantasize about the work you want to be doing but sometimes it can be rather different, since non-profits have many different needs. The clearer you are and the more questions you ask the less likely you are to be disappointed.

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