Who Takes Outdoor Volunteer Jobs and Why?
Some government agencies and many non-profit companies often find themselves on tight budgets and simply do not have the resources to hire all the employees that they would like. We suggest volunteering as an alternative.
You are not giving up the search for a paid position, but are utilizing volunteering as a stepping stone to a paid position by making some key contacts and gaining an insider’s perspective.
Who becomes a volunteer? There really is no such thing as the “typical” volunteer. Those committed to outdoor programs come from all walks of life, spanning a broad range of demographics. Volunteers may be college students, young adults, international visitors, retirees, or anyone else concerned with the environment and willing to learn the process behind keeping our national parks, forests, and other wilderness areas viable. Learn about volunteer jobs, including why people volunteer, in our Volunteering Abroad section.
While most volunteer positions are non-paying, some agencies may reimburse you for expenses such as transportation, food, or housing. In addition, your hours may earn you college credit. But more importantly, volunteering offers you an opportunity to gain invaluable experience. Because employers realize that you will be dedicating much of your time and energy, they will go to great lengths to match your skills and interests to what is available. And with decentralized hiring processes, you can apply specifically to whichever location or even department you are interested in working. You can even get extra training in your fields of interest. Volunteer positions also may be more flexible than paid work, allowing you to specify your hours and length of commitment, or giving you the ability to try out a variety of tasks.
Lastly, volunteering looks good on a resume. Your willingness to volunteer your time means you have qualities most employers find desirable, such as a proven record of community service. Volunteers are recognized as committed individuals, and many environmental agencies we contacted mentioned that volunteers provide an invaluable resource in times of tight budgeting.