Using volunteer jobs for work experience

Amy White
Categories: Applying

We hear it all the time.

"I'm a teen looking for my first job, but employers all seem to want experience and I don't have any. What do I do?"

We've got one word for you - volunteer.

Volunteering is the best way to get the experience you need to score a great teen job. You might be surprised at how easy it is to find a volunteer position that fits your interests. These five opportunities are both fun and will show potential employers that you're responsible. Not only will volunteering help you score a teen job, but it can actually help you get into college! 

Are you interested in TV and movies?

If you want to be the next Katie Couric or Quentin Tarantino, then consider volunteering at your local PBS or public access station. They're always looking for people to run cameras and help out with other behind-the-scenes work. You'll meet and learn all about video production from the experts, giving you a head start on your future career.

How to use this volunteer experience on your resume: Tell employers you worked in a high-pressure, deadline-driven environment where you had to make split-second decisions. As a bonus, you can talk about your technical and computer skills. 

Are you interested in working with children?

Camps, daycares and church groups offer great volunteer opportunities for teens who like to work with children. You'll need to be patient, caring and organized. Those of you thinking about a future career in teaching may want to work your way up to a volunteer position as a teacher or camp counselor. It's a great way to learn more about the ins and outs of the profession and will help you to see if you're a good fit.

How to use this volunteer experience on your resume: You'll impress employers by describing your responsibilities in detail. How many children did you watch over? What did you teach them? How many hours a day were you with the children? The more specific you get - the better.

Are you interested in working with animals?

Countless animal shelters could use your help. Call up some of the shelters near you and see what opportunities are available. You may end up walking dogs or shampooing new rescues so beware, it can be messy work. Don't forget to call veterinary offices; they can use your help too.

How to use this volunteer experience on your resume: On your resume, let employers know you helped to rescue stray and neglected animals, shadowed experienced veterinarians (or shelter workers) and learned how care for and protect injured animals. Be sure to mention any medical or administrative work you did.

Are you interested in history or science?

Call up your local museum or aquarium. You may end up helping feed the sharks or end up conducting museum tours. You may also end up helping with paperwork and other administrative work. Check to find out if there are any requirements before applying, because some museums and aquariums require that you be a certain age or have a teacher's recommendation.

How to use this volunteer experience on your resume: Focus on talking about how much knowledge you gained - after all, not only did you get to work with one-on-one with animals and artifacts, but you got to work with history and science professionals. Don't forget to list your day-to-day responsibilities. 

Are you interested in medicine?

You can really make a difference in the lives of others by volunteering at a hospital or nursing home. Whether you help deliver food to the bedridden or play chess with bored patients, you'll be helping to improve the quality of someone's life.

How to use this volunteer experience on your resume: Give employers details about your responsibilities - who you worked with, what you did and how you helped them. Include any hands-on medical work you did.