Would I be stupid to (not) accept this?
October 13, 2022 9:28 AM   Subscribe

I cannot decide if I should accept a volunteer position. It is in a field related to my MA and it is a part-time remote position. I have a lot going on right now because I am in a full-time MA programme with multiple language requirements. I work (paid) on a freelance basis. My work hours vary every month. The volunteer position is a mangerial role - so it is not entirely aligned with my interests (which are more creative).

I am actually in the process of applying for full-time paid jobs (If I get a full-time paid job, the plan is to switch to a part-time route for the MA). I randomly applied for this volunteer position because the organisation looked interesting, and I do think the work they do is pretty cool. However, since my role will be admin-heavy, I will not actually be creating any content for them. I am also fed up with organisations that make people with degrees work for free.

What do I do? I am tempted not to accept but I don't know if I am turning down something that could potentially boost my CV.
posted by bigyellowtaxi to Society & Culture (9 answers total)
Best answer: Not every CV boost is worth it. You have PLENTY on your plate. In your shoes I'd listen to my gut and turn it down.

There will be other opportunities.
posted by humbug at 9:35 AM on October 13, 2022 [2 favorites]

Best answer: It sounds like you would probably have to drop this position fairly soon, assuming you get paying work, and it's not doing what you actually want to be doing. If it's *very* part-time, then maybe, but otherwise, no, this does not sound like a good deal.

I have a titled-but-unpaid role with a nonprofit that involves half a dozen zoom meetings and 30-60 hours of work per year - if it were something like that, then yeah, that might be worth having on your CV. But it doesn't sound like this is what you're being offered, and it really doesn't sound like you have time you can afford to give away for free.
posted by restless_nomad at 9:37 AM on October 13, 2022 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Don't do it.

You can create free content a ton of ways, and a volunteer managerial role is something I wouldn't consider "managerial experience" in quite the same way as a paid position - I mean yes, lots of people do do great jobs in un unpaid manager role like convention security etc. but as someone hiring, I have no way to evaluate the quality of that work. Content/portfolio work is different; I can look at that and make a call.
posted by warriorqueen at 9:39 AM on October 13, 2022

Best answer: Don't underestimate the value of more flex time and less stress in your life. It sounds like you have a lot on your plate already, the organization is interesting but the work is not a great fit. In my own experience with nonprofits, a managerial role, especially if you are managing volunteers can be higher stress than usual since volunteers are more likely to flake out and you have less authority than in a traditional employment arrangement which then puts more pressure on you to make sure the results happen despite all of that.

So think about what you would do with that extra time if you didn't volunteer. Could you use it be more successful at the things you are already doing? Have more time for things like exercise and housekeeping that make your daily life less stressful and more pleasant? Just because you could do one more thing doesn't mean you should.
posted by metahawk at 10:01 AM on October 13, 2022 [3 favorites]

Best answer: I would be deeply, deeply skeptical of any organization that seeks volunteers to *manage* staff or budget, apart from all-volunteer hobbyist organizations like swing dance societies or cat-fancier clubs, for which the time commitment would be 20 hours or less *per month* - that suggests an org that hasn’t yet built itself enough to function sustainably, and therefore has a strong likelihood of turning out to be a boundaries-violating mess. If the work isn’t work that would strengthen your portfolio, I would recommend focusing on finding a paying gig instead. Like freelancing, volunteering is best for donor and recipient when the scope is specific, relevant, actionable, and time-bound. Good luck!
posted by rrrrrrrrrt at 11:05 AM on October 13, 2022 [8 favorites]

Best answer: From your description, I'm not picking up a lot of enthusiasm or urgent importance.

The organization is interesting. They do cool work. That's not enough. There are plenty of organizations like that. There will be other opportunities that are more relevant and less of a potential time sink.

The time you would have spent doing this is time you can put toward your job applications and your paying freelance work. It will also be less time spent looking at screens. By saying no to this opportunity, you are saying a stronger yes to other things.

Don't do it.
posted by cadge at 12:14 PM on October 13, 2022 [2 favorites]

Best answer: You have listed multiple reasons not to accept and zero strong reasons to accept. Trust your gut on this one and walk away. You can try to keep the door open if you like, but if you're going to do free labor at least make sure it's a great fit and lines up with your strategic goals and not random whims.

In other words, when you're ready and have bandwidth, proactively pitch yourself to the organizations you like doing the work you care about. You might be pleasantly surprised at the response you get!
posted by Goblin Barbarian at 1:42 PM on October 13, 2022

Best answer: No. Why would you do this? A supervisor role that's volunteer? This organization is not sustainable and the benefit to you is marginal.
posted by latkes at 2:33 PM on October 13, 2022 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I am in a managerial role in a volunteer organisation, a State based volunteer emergency response service. It's very rewarding. It doesn't sound like that's anything like this.

I would take the role only if what you're interested in is actually the experience of managing and leading, with the understanding that the only reward to voluntarism is voluntarism itself. Otherwise, absolutely not.
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 8:45 PM on October 13, 2022 [1 favorite]

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