Becoming a travel therapist can give you the opportunity to work in neighboring communities to your own for several months. Some therapists love exploring the local food scene or checking out the latest museum exhibits. However, giving back can provide a positive boost and provide the chance to learn more about the community you're working with. Check out these tips for making the most of your volunteering experience:
Find an issue that you care about
This can run the gamut from helping a local official run for office to working for a non-profit arts program with students. Finding a project or organization that gets you excited is the first step. Where should you look? Check out locally-owned coffee shop message boards - organizations still use this communal space to post news or events related to them.
Discover what you want to get out of the experience
You don't need to start your volunteering experience with a checklist - however, if you know you want to work with children or become more comfortable talking to new people, you can seek out opportunities within the organization to help you reach your goals, The Guardian recommended. Talk to the organizer or the volunteering recruiter to find the opportunities that best fit.
Accept the menial tasks
It's tempting to forgo doing smaller tasks for a volunteer organization - but handing out water bottles at a run or working behind the scenes at a food bank can be great if you're strapped for time. It can also offer you the chance to see if an non-profit is a good fit without overcommitting yourself, noted The Balance. You can also use these smaller tasks to play off of your strengths: Create sign-in charts to help other volunteers stay organized or put your eye for detail to good use by looking over brochures.
Be open to working with a team
For some travel therapists, there is nothing more nerve wracking than talking to a new group of people. However, being assigned to a team can be a way for you to meet other volunteers without it feeling forced and awkward. It can also give you the chance to make new relationships in the community - and help you discover the hidden gems for food and drink that no tourist knows about!
Make a consistent commitment
With only one week or one afternoon, you may feel like you're not doing enough to make a difference. Carve out time - whether it is after work or on the weekends - to consistently help your volunteer organization. You will likely feel more fulfilled when you see the changes your efforts create.
Keep in touch
You've done all the hard work of making connections - make sure to seek them out on LinkedIn or snag their email addresses. Many volunteering organizations have branches in a number of cities - and your organizer may know the leaders in a different state. Don't forget about your teammates! When you travel to a new city, you could reach out to your coordinator to answer any questions you have - or bring the teams together for a larger event! Utilize social media to share photos from a team meeting and to touch base with fellow volunteers.
Working in a new city offers a whole set of challenges. Joining a volunteer organization can reignite your passion for the arts or giving back to a local organization. Use these tips to make the most of your time - and enjoy!