Volunteering provides youth with valuable career exploration experience

Career assessments, job shadowing and internships are all valuable for teens exploring career options, but volunteering can provide another path to learning about career options.

Volunteering hands

Career exploration comes in various forms, such as career assessments, job shadowing and internships. How about volunteering for career exploration? Teens can start by thinking of the various careers they might be interested in and ways they can volunteer related to the different career fields.

Career assessments as a guide for volunteering

A good place to start if someone is unsure of their career interests is to take a career assessment. Career assessments are guides that give teens direction by taking an evaluation or questionnaire on their interests and skills. Career assessments can be a good place to start for not only a potential career field but also taking a step toward a career field through volunteering. The Michigan 4-H Youth Development Careers and Entrepreneurship website has information on various career assessment websites to assist youth in discovering their career interests.

Seeking volunteer opportunities and job preparation

Once various career interests are discovered, teens can locate different organizations or businesses in their community that may cater to their career interests. Teens should take the initiative to contact potential businesses and organizations to find out if there are opportunities to volunteer. Some service organizations and businesses have an application and orientation process that prospective volunteers must go through to become a volunteer. This type of process can be good practice for teens by preparing them to seek and apply for a job.

Volunteering for skills, service and support

There are benefits for youth who take the initiative to use volunteering as a method for career exploration. Just like internships, volunteering will allow youth to build skills, gain experience and gain support. When youth are participating in a volunteer experience, they should journal the skills, experience and support they are gaining through volunteering. They can write about new skills they are learning, the type of experience they are receiving and the support they may be getting. The support they may be getting can be in the form of references for their resumes or jobs or a group of people to add in their network.

Consider volunteering for career exploration

All youth pursuing any career after high school should consider taking the steps of volunteering and experiencing the benefits of volunteering as a method for career exploration. Please visit the Michigan State University Extension 4-H Youth Development website for more information on careers and entrepreneurshipleadership, citizenship and service, community service and service learning opportunities.

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