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How To Encourage Your Teen To Volunteer

Updated on August 27, 2013
Kristine Manley profile image

Kris Manley is a blogger, author, and speaker. She's a guest on radio in the U.S., Canada, and overseas, as well as a guest on network TV.

Teen Volunteers in Sales & Marketing, Project Management, or Database Development

It's easy to get a teenager to volunteer.

With today’s economy employers are laying off but still need work done that is crucial to their business. They are working “lean,” meaning employers are attempting to work smarter and not harder, they are cutting the “fat.” Layers of employees that are beneficial to the bottom line are being cut while some of the much needed work still remains. What does this mean for a young person (teen) looking for experience? Notice I said experience, not work. Now grant you your teen wants to earn some cash, but sometimes experiences gained verses cash rewards are priceless. So, get your child’s resume together, develop that cover letter stating the benefits of volunteerism, and wait for the responses from organizations that are now open to the idea of providing great experiences in lieu of a monetary payout.

Some organizations may fill jobs with volunteers that they would not normally fill because of the type of work – we’re not talking hazardous work. Assist your child in tailoring a cover letter outlining the type of experience he or she is looking for along with any special skills your child will “bring to the table.” This assists the organization in matching your child’s interests and/or skills to a specific department within the organization. You are also encouraging your child to be a “smart” volunteer – meaning he or she volunteer in areas that they have the most interest and/or expertise or skills.

Let’s look at terminology. In your child’s cover letter use the word “experience” instead of the words “work,” “job,” or “position” which imply wages. Be specific that what your child is seeking is experience that is value-added; value-added to your child and to the organization. Request in the cover letter that at the end of your child’s stint with the organization that he or she receive a letter thanking them for making themselves available to the organization; of course, this letter may be used to pursue other volunteer opportunities for your child. Let the organization know that by allowing your child to gain valuable experience with them, they are contributing to your child’s growth and development.

As your child volunteers he or she will be exposed to several career paths that might interest them. Volunteering is a great networking avenue for your child - he or she can come away from the experience with e-mail addresses and phone numbers of executives and other key people within organizations who would be willing to assist them with their future career path.

Your child needs to know that volunteering can be priceless. Just make sure that the volunteer experience is “smart” for your child. In today’s economy organizations will not turn away from taking on volunteers. This is a prime opportunity for teens to take advantage of the downsizing, restructuring, and shifting of organizations. As a parent, if you do not know where to begin to look for “smart” volunteer opportunities for your child, visit www.volunteermatch.org or www.ysa.org.

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