Believe it or not, not everyone wants to go straight to the corporate world or graduate school after college. In fact, some people don't ever want to join the executive ranks or continue their education. But how do you know what's out there other than the usual choices? Try researching volunteer opportunities and non-traditional work options.
Volunteer work is an excellent way to serve your community and gain valuable work skills. Even if a hectic schedule leaves you with little time for volunteering, remember, organizations are grateful for any moments you can spare. In addition, volunteer work helps to increase your repertoire of skills and life experiences, increasing your viability as a job candidate.
Unfortunately, while volunteer work may fulfill your desire to help the world and aid in self-improvement, it does not pay the bills. Working as a paid employee for a nonprofit agency can simultaneously satisfy your desire to be altruistic and your need for adequate income.
Here is a list of excellent public service organizations as well as databases of job and volunteer opportunities:
Public Service Organizations:
- Action Without Borders
- Action Without Borders is a movement of individuals and groups with original humanitarian and environmental projects. Large or small organizations, schools, households, and individuals can all become involved at the local or international level.
- The American Red Cross
- The American Red Cross is a humanitarian organization, led by volunteers, that provides relief to victims of disasters and helps people prevent, prepare for, and respond to emergencies. This site includes a directory of Red Cross local chapters and includes information about programs, events, and Red Cross initiatives.
- America's Charities
- America's Charities is a coalition of prestigious, national charitable organizations providing direct services in thousands of local communities. America's Charities provides employers with a choice of charities to present to employees, recognizing the importance of charitable choice and diversity. The site includes links to member charities online.
- AmeriCorps National Service Program
- The AmeriCorps National Service Program is the Presidential public service program that provides incentives for citizens to participate in important domestic quality-of-life issues. Its three direct service programs are AmeriCorps*USA, AmeriCorps*VISTA (Volunteers In Service To America), and AmeriCorps*NCCC (National Civilian Conservation Corps).
- The Carter Center
- The Carter Center is a nonprofit, nonpartisan public-policy institute in Atlanta, Georgia, founded in 1982 by former President Jimmy Carter and his wife, Rosalynn. The Center is dedicated to fighting disease, hunger, poverty, conflict, and oppression through collaborative initiatives in the areas of democratization and development, global health, and urban revitalization. At present, the Center operates 13 core programs and initiatives active in more than 30 countries, including the United States.
- Council on International Educational Exchange
- The Council on International Educational Exchange is a nonprofit, non-governmental agency that sponsors student travel, study, and work abroad to promote better understanding in the global community. CIEE also sponsors short-term community service opportunities known as International Volunteer Projects.
- GMAC-Gay Men's Health Crisis
- The Gay Men's Health Crisis battles the AIDS epidemic through the creation of compassionate care for patients, by providing and encouraging the continuance of AIDS education, and through its advocacy for fair public policy.
- Greenpeace is an environmental organization with the purpose of creating a green and peaceful world. It draws attention to the abuse of the environment through presence at the scene of abuse despite any risk the volunteers may have to take.
- Habitat for Humanity
- Habitat for Humanity, one of the programs operated by the Carter Center, is dedicated to the elimination of substandard housing and homelessness. Its mission is to create and provide shelter that is both livable and affordable.
- Nonviolenceweb is a site that is home to numerous nonviolence groups. The site offers connections to a multitude of nonviolence Web pages and provides many avenues of support as well.
- The PeaceCorps is a government agency that sponsors long-term volunteer participation in "people to people" grassroots development assistance programs. Its mission is to promote world peace and friendship in the international community.
- Project America
- Project America is devoted to the discussion of National Project America Day in which thousands of people participate in various ways. The site provides suggestions for how each person can help. Additionally, the site offers a feature that can help each person determine which volunteer opportunity is right for him/her.
- Save the Children
- Save the Children is a nonprofit organization devoted to child advocacy through nutritional education, child development, and basic child education. In addition, Save the Children attempts to improve the economic opportunities of children, and help children cope and recover in emergency situations.
- Second Harvest
- The largest domestic hunger relief organization in the United States, Second Harvest supplies the needy with one billion pounds of food a year. Second Harvest provides food for those who are hungry due to poverty and those affected by natural disaster.
- Vote Smart Web
- Project Vote Smart is a national, nonpartisan, nonprofit organization founded by former Presidents Carter and Ford and 37,000 other Americans. The organization maintains a comprehensive information system that pulls together voting records, campaign finance data, special interests' performance evaluations, issue positions and backgrounds of candidates and elected officials nationwide.
- Who Cares
- Who Cares is "a national quarterly journal devoted to community service and social activism" that provides information about nonprofit service organizations and opportunities.
Volunteer and Job Databases:
- Benefice provides a database which can be searched by state, area of interest, and/or keyword for existing volunteer opportunities.
- Links to nonprofit environmental organizations.
- Feminist Majority Foundation Online Career Center
- Links to women's organizations and progressive nonprofit organizations. Provides both job and internship listings.
- Careers in the nonprofit field and listings of volunteer positions.
- Nonprofit Career Network
- Resource center of nonprofit organizations with listings of job and volunteer opportunities.
- Servenet offers a database of volunteer opportunities searchable by date and location throughout the United States. The site also highlights upcoming major volunteer events and workshops.