How to Volunteer (and participate in organizations) Effectively
Volunteering and becoming active in organizations is an essential part of your development as a young professional (medical, dental, vet, grad or whatever). Intelligent students think ahead and plan accordingly to get the most of the experiences.
These experiences are where you learn how to work together, take charge, delegate tasks and finish what you start outside the classroom. For any “real life experience” you will also be testing to see if the dreams you selected a long time ago are really right for you.
Shadowing and Job Interviews (to be repeated as needed) Find someone doing the job you want. Offer to take them for coffee and ask the following:
- What do you most like about your work? What do you like least?
- How did you get here? What was your path?
- What do you know now about your path (work, life, choices) that you wish you knew at my age?
- What would you change if you could?
- Remember to thank them for their time.
- Shadow people working in the field. Approach this professionally in dress and attitude.
- Note what they say and do as well as how.
- Watch their interactions with others.
- Are they effective? Do they deal well with patients?
- Is their style is similar to yours? If not, what is different? Learn what you can.
- What kind of problems and frustrations are encountered?
- How can you get yourself prepared to deal with these issues?
- Connect to Alma opportunities if possible, also seek locations in your home town.
- Be realistic about class load and available time before committing to other activities.
- Get all shots and paperwork completed promptly.
- Always honor obligations in a professional manner. People depend on you.
- Treat patients with respect and empathy.
- You will probably not be talking to patients here. Learn to listen carefully.
- Maintain confidentiality. What you observe is not for casual discussion with your friends.
- Watch interactions among personnel. You can learn a great deal this way.
- Watch how people are treated and how they treat others. Analyze your own behavior.
- Ask questions only when/if your mentor says it is appropriate.
- Understand the rules beforehand.
- Do not contradict or argue with the professional in front of a patient. This is very unprofessional!
Organizations (lots of activities never compensate for mediocre grades!)
- Resist the urge to join every club under the sun so that you will “get it on your resume” (that’s exactly what it looks like and people will think worse of you)
- Join the clubs and organizations you care about and in which you can make a difference.
- Include both professional and fun options in your choices.
- Consider why and which one you would like to lead (based on your future profession).
- Work up to a leadership role in one or two organizations and be an effective leader.
- Learn when to hold your ground and when to compromise to get things done.
- Honor your obligations and your word.
- Become an excellent listener.
- Don’t be afraid to move on and let others lead, once you have learned what you need.
Remember “MORE IS NOT BETTER!!! BE A DO-ER NOT A JOIN-ER!!”
Download the Volunteer Experience Log