Date: Monday, March 13, 1995
Source: Diane L. Schirf, (University of Chicago alumna).
Column: Voice of the people (letter).
Copyright Chicago Tribune
In response to Su Kwan of the University of Chicago, who was disappointed that so many service organizations turned down U. of C. students who offered themselves as volunteers:
I’ve worked as a volunteer for several organizations during the past 15 years. In each case, members of the staff interviewed me, just as if I were applying for a paid position. After I was accepted as a volunteer (in training), I was required to attend several weeks of classes — 60 hours total in one case; 20 in another. Now that I’ve passed muster and am actually performing volunteer services, I still must attend continuing education sessions, as I must for my “real” job.
Like any job, volunteer positions are specialized. Even if you are a bright, enthusiastic U. of C. student, most likely you will not be able to “hit the ground running” in a volunteer capacity any more than you could in your first paying job as a professional. Service organizations also require long-term commitment on your part — sometimes one to two years, or even more. After all, the organization has invested a lot of time and effort in you.
So please don’t knock service organizations for turning down your kindly intended if misguided offer. If you really are interested in becoming dedicated volunteers, go for the interview and attend the training. Then you may appreciate just how much service organizations and the people they serve value their highly trained volunteers and the services they provide.