An Alternative Volunteer Opportunity for Teens
While you are still in high school, there are a lot of reasons why you might seek out volunteering opportunities. Whether it is throughout high school or in the summer between semesters, volunteer opportunities are something that many teenagers actively seek out. However, volunteer work for teens (rather than adults) can sometimes be hard to find, especially if you don’t know where to look.
Part of this could be because you are looking in the wrong places, or perhaps for the wrong kinds of opportunities. We have compiled some ideas to help you find projects, and included a few alternatives to what you might consider typical volunteer work for after you graduate.
Benefits of Volunteer Work for Teens
First, you might be wondering why you should be looking to volunteer while you are still in school. There are plenty of reasons why high schoolers should seek out these volunteer opportunities as teens. Gaining experience, social benefits, making a difference, and increased happiness are all on the list. Following are some of the main benefits of volunteer work for teens.
Boost Your Resume
This is maybe the reason for volunteer work that most people jump to at first — and there’s a reason for that. Whether you’re considering college applications, job opportunities, or even scholarships, volunteering is a great way to show potential employers (or those in charge of admissions) that you are different from other applicants. Volunteering as a teenager can demonstrate qualities such as a willingness to work hard, an increased set of skills beyond the classroom, and good leadership potential.
Make Change in a Realistic Way
Many of us want to better ourselves and better the environment or community we are a part of. While our intentions are often in the right place, sometimes we can fall victim to the vague cliche of wanting “to make the world a better place” without actually knowing how, or taking steps to do so. Volunteering in your community allows you to make a daily impact in a way that is actionable, where you can see the results; it allows you to actually enact change on a smaller, yet no less important, scale.
Volunteering can be a great way to meet people in your community. And it doesn’t matter how old you are! These might be people the same age, with the same background as yourself, or you might meet people of different ages and various life experiences. Many volunteer opportunities for teens will help you with networking, improve your interpersonal skills, or just be a fun way to meet new people. Volunteering as a teenager can be a great way to create new connections with others.
Learn New Skills
Many volunteer opportunities for teens require learning to do things that you may not have any prior experience doing. It might be cooking, working a register, or even learning a new language. The opportunity to learn a new skill is invaluable, both when it comes to personal growth and also for future college or job applications.
Help Prepare You for Future Adventures
Volunteering as a teenager can help you to expand your horizons and grow in a way that positions you to be an ideal candidate for future adventures such as gap year programs. At Global Citizen Year in particular, we look for applicants who can work effectively with others, who want to grow, and who have open minds ready for new experiences.
VOLUNTEER WORK FOR TEENS WHO ARE STILL IN SCHOOL
Food banks provide a number of different ways to potentially volunteer your time. You can volunteer to help sort, pack, and stack food. You could also help through donating or collecting food donations yourself, organizing or hosting fundraising events, or even just donating money yourself. However you participate, you’ll be providing meals for local people in need.
Similarly, there are also a lot of non-profit thrift stores where you can donate your time or money. This might be in sorting clothing, collecting donations of items, or working as a retail assistant on the store floor or behind the register.
American Red Cross
The American Red Cross provides a number of services, and there is the opportunity to provide your help through volunteering. Through their teen volunteer program, the Junior Red Cross, you can do things like organize a blood drive, learn about disaster relief, train younger children in essential home safety skills, and more.
Libraries provide an essential service to society, and they are a fantastic place to find volunteer work for teens. Check with your local library to see if you can help in cleaning, organizing/shelving books, or even checking books out. They may even have other programs that they need help with, such as special events or reading to children.
WHEN YOU GRADUATE
Options after graduation
Whether you are able to volunteer while taking high school classes full time or not, another popular option is to spend time volunteering before college. This is where, instead of regular teen volunteer programs, you might consider taking a year off to enter a gap year program.
A gap year abroad can be a great way to travel the world and prepare for college in perhaps the most effective way possible. Rather than falling into the common habit of wasting your time before college, you can spend that time doing something meaningful. And if you take your gap year with Global Citizen Year, you can be assured that you will not be participating in a standard teen volunteer program or “voluntourism” that can often do more harm than good. Global Citizen Year is determined to help build the leaders of tomorrow through once-in-a-lifetime experiences that cannot be replicated anywhere else.
There are many benefits of taking a gap year before college; here are just a few:
Many people long to see the world, but never get the chance. A gap year provides you with the opportunity to do just that, at a time when it naturally makes sense to take a break — between high school and college. Taking a gap year abroad might allow you to not only visit a place you have always dreamed of seeing, but truly experience it in a way that you never could have imagined.
Experience a different culture
Not only will you travel, but you will be completely immersed in your destination. Staying with a host family who will become like family for the time you are there, you will be able to fully embrace a new culture in a way that few people are able to do.
Learn a new language
This often also includes learning a new language. And since no prior language skills are required, you can also get excited about the prospect of adding your new language skills to your resume.
Meet new people
Your host family will not be the only new people in your life as a result of your gap year abroad. You will meet lifelong friends as you live and work in the area, becoming a part of the community. Not to mention, you will likely also find great friends in your cohort, with whom you travel. No simple teen volunteer program could provide the relationships and connections of a gap year with Global Citizen Year.
Put yourself in the stretch zone
Sometimes an adventure like this can seem a little intimidating before you set out. But the act of doing so can help you to step out of your comfort zone and really teach you more about what you are capable of. You’ll gain the skills, perspective, and real world experience that will help you make the most of college.
And while it is not often the main reason why people decide to embark on most journeys, we would be remiss not to mention the benefit that these kinds of programs abroad have for your resume. It will look great on your college applications, and more than this is sure to impress future employers when it comes to applying for post-college jobs.
HEAR FROM GAP YEAR STUDENTS AND PARENTS
Fellow / Senegal
— Elise Leise
In a world filled with complex global challenges, I hope to be part of a generation that refuses to give up so easily.…
Fellow / Senegal
New Continent, New Family
— Erik Oline
I turned around to the open arms of my host family (yes, all 23 of them)! The family farm is a little slice of heaven……
Parent / Brazil
Maturity & Perspective
— Shih-Hung Shieh
The Fellows mature into intelligent, compassionate, cosmopolitan citizens of the world, able to converse about global issues……
Fellow / Ecuador
Why I Came to Ecuador
— Henry Yeary
I wanted the world to slap me silly, sweep me up like a tornado and crash me down. I needed to live.…
Fellow / India
This is How I Will Save the World
— Indi Nunez
The world does not need us to save it; it needs us to understand it. Perhaps to help is not to give after all, but rather to empower……
Parent / Senegal
Real World Skills
— Pam Ricker (Jordan Ricker)
I am so glad my son has had this experience. It has given him more than the acquisition of two new languages……