How do I Research a Program or Sponsor Organization?
Once you have identified programs that interest you, call, email or write for more information and application materials. You will want to read the organization's literature, visit their website, talk with the recruiting staff, and ideally speak with some current or former volunteers/participants from the program. When evaluating a program and possible opportunity, the questions you should find answers to include:
- What is the mission and philosophy of the organization?
- Does the organization have any affiliation (government, religious, etc.)?
- What is the financial situation of the organization? Where do they get their funding?
- What is a participant's financial responsibility?
- What are the expectations and the specific role/responsibilities of the placement?
- Who will you be serving?
- What will the living situation be like?
- What type of training and supervision is provided?
- Will you be working and living with other volunteers?
- How does the organization relate to the community? How is it received?
- If the placement is overseas, what documents are required; are there any special health, language or cultural issues?
- What provisions are made for health insurance?
- Is it possible to have your student loans deferred?
- What have past program participants gone on to do?
What should I know about the application process?
The application process for each Year of Service program will vary, so you should contact the organization directly to learn about the process and deadlines, and to request any necessary materials. Be careful not to underestimate the application process. It may be more involved and take much longer than you expect. Deadlines may be many months before the position begins. Clarify any deadline dates and then give yourself plenty of time to complete the necessary applications, essays, resumes, requests for recommendations, physical exams, etc. In addition, competition for some of these opportunities may be tough.
Take the application process seriously!
Who Can Help?
If you need any assistance as you explore, evaluate, select and apply to Gap Year Options/Year of Service opportunities, check with your Career Consultant at the UGA Career Center. From listening and helping you process your thoughts and concerns, to assisting you in creating and reviewing your resume and application materials, the staff at the UGA Career Center is ready to help you “get connected!”
Note: Many of the above resources were adapted from an article written by Jon McConnell, Student Development Programs Director, Haas Center for Public Service, Stanford University and Alice Bergman, Former Director, Reed College Career Center.