So, you’re unemployed with lots of time on your hands. You’ve rewritten your resume for the hundredth time and you feel like you’ll go blind from sitting in front of the computer searching USA Jobs for opportunities. You need a break but want to stay productive. What can you do? Here’s an idea: volunteer!
That’s right, find a volunteer opportunity that will give you some experience in a field you’re interested in exploring. Or, find a volunteer opportunity in which you can work alongside a company you’re interested in joining – it’s a great way to make connections.
Recently, Veterans Green Jobs participated in a volunteer event organized by GRID Alternatives. It is a California-based nonprofit whose mission is to provide solar technology to low-income families. Through grants, donated materials and volunteers, the organization saves families up to 90% on their electric bills by installing a solar system. GRID Alternatives received a significant grant from Wells Fargo to expand in Colorado and needed some support installing solar on 12 homes near Denver. Veterans Green Jobs and others stepped up to help out.
One of our interns, Danny Moore, is an OIF veteran and wounded warrior. He is a student at Ecotech Institute, and used a week of free time to help hang solar panels and install the electrical systems. Now, Danny isn’t unemployed – he’s using his GI Bill to get a great education – but the idea is the same. By volunteering with GRID Alternatives, he got a taste of the solar industry, gained valuable experience, and augmented his classroom training with practical skills development. I guarantee that Danny will use the experience on a resume and in an interview in the future.
I know it’s frustrating not having a job. I’ve been there, too. But providing a little direction and purpose while building for the future can help bridge the gap and make you more competitive for the job market.
Don’t overdo it. Every time I was considering another volunteer opportunity, my wife was always quick to ask me if it was a paid position and how much time it would take. Even though volunteer gigs don’t pay the bills, these experiences can provide tangible benefits, such as hands-on experience and personal and professional connections, which will pay off in the future.
Where are you going to find your next opportunity?
–John Toth, Veterans Green Jobs