What to do with 20 hrs. a week (in Boston)?
October 21, 2008 8:48 AM   Subscribe

What would you do with 20 hours a week in Boston? I'm starting a part-time job next week which is enough to cover my living expenses, so I'm looking for suggestions on what I can do with the rest of my time: hobbies to take up, part time jobs, volunteer opportunities, etc.

I feel very fortunate to be in the position I am in now. After graduating in June from my university here, I'm easing into the "real world" via an exciting part time job in the finance industry (whew boy...) which will cover my expenses and let me save a little, too. The job will hopefully move to full-time in the next year, so until then I have a large chunk of time on my hands that I'm not sure what to do with.

I'm open to anything, really. Now is the time to sell me on your pet cause. Live somewhere in Boston that's really dirty and thought to yourself, "Hmm, if only there was someone who would come here every day for four hours and pick up trash, this place would be lovely!"? Think animal shelters are woefully understaffed? Soup kitchens need people?

I'm not entirely opposed to making money, either... I get Starbucks enough I've toyed with becoming a barista so I know what it's like on the other side of the counter. If you work at a bookstore do you get to read books as much as it seems you would?

Or maybe I could spend the time honing some skill I'm sorely missing. Would I be just that much cooler if I were good at painting/ukulele/whittling/knitting/etc? Do I need to learn another language?

So, M-F after noon I'm free. I can program. I enjoy writing. I'm good with numbers. What should I do!?

(My first question to metafilter; please be gentle! MeFites who haven't paid the $5 yet can e-mail me at my username at gmail)

posted by losvedir to Work & Money (8 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I'd walk and walk and I'd pay attention to what's going on around me and

take pictures with a decent point-and-shoot camera and maybe post them to flickr or maybe just use them to remind me of what I saw and heard and then, since you said you enjoy writing, I might write about what I saw and heard and smelled and sensed.

I might also get on the T too and go somewhere I never got a chance to go to when I was too busy studying and then once I was there, do what I mentioned above.
posted by nnk at 9:02 AM on October 21, 2008

The Brattle Theatre needs volunteers.
posted by mkb at 9:03 AM on October 21, 2008

Do not get a second job......Follow any artistic dream that would like to do the rest of your life....once you start working full time it will be very difficult to do what you are doing now.
posted by The1andonly at 9:24 AM on October 21, 2008

Seconding The1andonly...Now seems like a great time to explore any interests or curiosities you might have outside the world of work. If you like to write, you could take a class at Grub Street Writers. Both the Boston and Cambridge centers for adult ed have all kinds of classes. I've taken a cooking class and a bookbinding class at the Cambridge center.

Also, perhaps think about what social or political causes interest you. With programming and writing skills, I'm sure you could make a significant contribution to any number of organizations as a volunteer.

I'm very envious.....
posted by Shazbot at 9:55 AM on October 21, 2008

A few years ago Boston Cares seemed to have the best choice of projects all around the city (147 at a glance). The enrollment meeting was in a VFW hall on State Street I'd always been afraid of based on the people out front. They turned about to be some of the nicest people I've met in Boston. Some of the projects don't really seem to need volunteers but a few don't ever get enough. There was a children's home in Dorchester (this one, I think) that I easily would have quit my job to work at if money wasn't a problem. Nicest kids in really rough circumstances. Try a few out and see if anything really appeals to you. They'd probably jump at the chance to have a more regular volunteer vetted by Boston Cares.
posted by jwells at 10:04 AM on October 21, 2008

When I was a volunteer co-ordinator, I would have killed for a volunteer like you. Pick two or three organizations you like and give them each four hours, one afternoon a week, which is as much as a lot of places can find for skilled people to do (it's a waste of resources to have you stuffing envelopes when you could be doing stuff other volunteers can't - I'd have had you updating our website or trouble-shooting our computer system or writing fund-raising requests, or failing that doing data entry or researching funders to approach or organizing other volunteers, depending on what interested you).

For instance, you could work at a soup kitchen every Monday, at a science museum or the aquarium every Wednesday, and at an animal shelter every Thursday.

Take the other two or three afternoons a week for yourself and pursue whatever interests you. If you like to write, take a class or just start. Schedule yourself for a French class every Tuesday afternoon. Whatever. Just be sure to break it up a bit so you don't overwhelm yourself.
posted by joannemerriam at 10:40 AM on October 21, 2008

When I was in school and skipped all my classes, I just walked around the city all day. Boston is a very walkable place, and I got to know the city pretty well. I don't know if you'll find that very fun though, I'm kind of a wandering soul myself. One thing I did was go to every T stop in the city and step outside. (Go buy a T pass first though!)

Another suggestion, since you have writing skills and are available during the after-school hours, is to volunteer at 826 Boston. I would help out there if it weren't for the long commute from where I live (and the fact that I work too hard at my company).

Besides that, I think your question has less to do with Boston or any specific location. I looked at your question as more about "what do I do with all this time?" You could be anywhere and still get bored--it's about doing what you want to do and seeing all the people you want to see while you can--especially since you're going full-time soon--and a lot of people's suggestions would be viable in any city. Hope you find something awesome!
posted by melvinwang at 11:03 AM on October 21, 2008

A friend of mine works for Horizons for Homeless Children, and they're always dying for volunteers, even if it's just a couple of hours a week. They (HFHC and the kids) are especially interested in men volunteers, since they're less common and it's extra important to give the young boys good role models.
posted by Plutor at 11:07 AM on October 21, 2008

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