May 20, 2016 12:59 am
About 99% of the time that we as a residential program mention volunteering to new residents, we get – at the minimum – a slight groan. We know, volunteering can sound pretty uneventful and possibly boring to a young adult male.
For many of our residents, however, volunteering becomes the pathway towards independently working in a paid position. Not many employees are willing to open their facilities and operations to a person with absolutely no experience; let alone pay them. Volunteering helps create vocational skills within the work place setting with just a tad less demand that a paying job would. For us, it is that vital step in becoming in transitioning into the workplace environment.
During our weekly program schedule, we emphasize the importance of staying busy, even if you don’t have a job to go to. Each time one of our young adults goes to a volunteer position, they learn a new skill that will help increase their chances of obtaining a job. Those interactions with costumers and other volunteers in a less comfortable environment can be the moments that help boost their job skills to the next level.
Social Skill practice
It is one thing to learn how to master eye contact in a comfortable environment and then apply it to an place outside of the comfort zone. Volunteering typically promotes a well diverse and accepting environment that is vital for individuals learning to better their social skills. Each time one of our residents encounters a new person in a volunteer setting, they are strengthening those skills and learning how to apply them outside of the house.
Thinking outside of the box.
Volunteering at various places in the community also allow for experiences that the individual may not have known existed. For a young adult who loves animals, but never knew it could be a career, volunteering at an animal shelter can open up a world of future possibilities.
In every business or job coaching class, you are going to hear the word “networking” more than just a few times. The people working at a volunteer job typically have other commitments within the community, and more than likely they too have their own full time jobs. We constantly remind our residents that you can never be sure who will be a reference and speak on your behalf. Whether you get a reference from a co-volunteer or the company you are volunteering for, you end up coming out with a stronger resume.
So the next time your young adult asks to opt out of volunteering, explain the benefits and how it can lead to that job they are working towards.Tags: autism, job skills, volunteering, young adults
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