What are the best volunteering opportunities to raise my XP?
July 19, 2010 5:13 PM   Subscribe

What are the best volunteering opportunities to raise my XP?

I'm interested in doing some volunteer work but being the person I am, I want to do so in a way that will raise my XP and make me a better, more skilled individual and not in a way that makes me kinder or skip a few places in line at the afterlife. This was inspired by a few posters recommending volunteering at a theater in order to learn better DIY skills. I thought this was a fantastic idea and wanted to see if any MeFites had had any great experiences volunteering and learning hands-on practical experience.

Things I'm interested in besides DIY: cooking, real estate, small business consulting, user experience, tech-y art, gardening. I'm not limited to this list, and am more interested to see what kind of experiences you have had. I guess another way to think about this is that I want to trade my time for a semi-structured education where I am depended on to show up without any cash outlay.
posted by AmitinLA to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (11 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: Yes -- sorry for being unnecessarily nerdy in an attempt to be cute: XP refers to Experience Points, which are often used in role-playing games to gauge skill levels. The more XP you get lets you "level up" and be "better."
posted by AmitinLA at 5:22 PM on July 19, 2010

I've often thought about volunteering with Habitat for Humanity in order to improve my construction-type skills.
posted by epersonae at 5:23 PM on July 19, 2010

Best answer: Also, if there are skills that you already have but would like to improve, and they are generally applicable, consider volunteering with any small organization whose mission matches your interests, etc. (I am the webmaster for both my neighborhood association and the local friends of the library.) Very small organizations can use pretty much any kind of general help: editing a newsletter, updating a website, accounting, event planning. You'll get a chance to improve those skills -- or expand into something new -- and build a good professional/civic network.
posted by epersonae at 5:27 PM on July 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

HfH, as mentioned above, the LA Arboretum, library, museum as a docent, local parks & recreation departments are all potentials.

[Also: "most of us are more familiar with THACO": The wha? I looked up the acronym and I still don't know wtf it is. <dice&pencilRPgamerfromwayback>
posted by Emperor SnooKloze at 5:43 PM on July 19, 2010

THAC0 means To Hit Armor Class 0 (zero), and it's from AD&D.
posted by cgc373 at 5:50 PM on July 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

Volunteer at a hospital to improve your bioscientific and medical vocabulary.
posted by halogen at 5:51 PM on July 19, 2010

Mod note: A few comments removed, let's not let the D&D glossaralia overwhelm the actual question.
posted by cortex (staff) at 6:09 PM on July 19, 2010

Right now I'm volunteering as a receptionist for a non-profit one day a week. For the most part I'm just leveling up my receptionist experience, but they have many different areas where it seems like they need help. I'm gathering up the nerve to ask the human resources director about volunteering a bit the person in charge of marketing.

Anyway, all that is just to say that it might be beneficial to volunteer for a task that doesn't seem super exciting, because through that task you'll get to know the organization and the people will learn to like and trust you, and through that you might have the opportunity to take on new tasks, but most likely only if you have the courage to speak up.
posted by shesbookish at 6:20 PM on July 19, 2010

Best answer: Some of the people who volunteered at Project OpenHand while I was there (in the office demonstrating my mad organizational/typing skills) got experience cooking. I imagine other organizations of the Meals On Wheels variety have similar opportunities; I don't think AIDS Project LA is one of them, though, and I'm 99% sure that the actual Meals on Wheels does not have volunteers cooking.

For something similar to small business consulting, you could volunteer to help people with their taxes. For most anything, you can volunteer to teach something you know at a middle level at community centers, giving yourself the impetus to get better for your students. YWCAs often have opportunities to teach, as well.

For gardening, you can always help out at a community garden, or take on your own plot in one of those programs that gives up small plots to individuals. If you are in LA, and are REALLY into gardening, there's always this.

You'll get all kinds of generic knowledge in a read-for-the-blind operation, of course.

My best learn-while-volunteering experiences have all taught me business concepts or artsy stuff (I ran the Recycled Art Materials booth and wrote an article for the newsletter at the LA Children's Museum when I was a kid, I did the Project OpenHand thing, I participated in Flashback at Disneyland.) I agree with epersonae about finding a small organization that is in an area you're interested in: those jobs end out being as big as you can stand, in my experience.
posted by SMPA at 6:29 PM on July 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I've volunteered on farms (well, they usually give me some food, so win/win), and it's taught me a great deal about food, production-scale projects, and working with teams. If there's a CSA in your area, they would probably be overjoyed to have you pitch in for a morning.
posted by Gilbert at 8:54 PM on July 19, 2010

Best answer: I volunteer in animal rescue, and have learned a lot about various medical conditions affecting dogs and cats. Not particularly useful in any context other than animal rescuer (or pet owner, I guess.)

In my area, you can take a free class and become a volunteer weather spotter.

You can also take a free class (might be a series of classes, I'm not sure) to become a member of our community policing program.
posted by SuperSquirrel at 9:33 PM on July 19, 2010

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