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Career Story: Coordinator Of Volunteers At A Natural History Museum

Coordinator Of Volunteers At A Natural History Museum

Job Title: Coordinator Of Interns, Volunteers, & Technical Assistant

Type of Company: I work for a natural sciences museum and have held a full-time job there since 1992. I recruit all volunteers and college interns for the museum, which is part of the North Carolina Dept. of Environment and Natural Resources. I also work at a hospital part-time.

Education: BS, Biology, High Point University •• M.Ed, Science Education, University of Pittsburgh

Previous Experience: I taught high school biology for five years after college, then worked as a research assistant while getting my Masters degree. I have also been a substitute teacher and a communications operator at a regional hospital.

Job Tasks: A typical day is responding to phone inquiries about volunteering or internships. I also print them out from the computer or take those from the mail and copy them and give them to curator(s). I often have meetings with potential volunteers and take them on a tour of the museum. I tell potential interns that internships will involve a project and will provide them contacts and enhance their resume. Sometimes volunteers stop by to visit. I mail out volunteer packets, work with community service individuals, make volunteer handbooks and internship packets. Internships are available fall, spring, and summer semesters without pay but for credit or experience. If there are any special events or special exhibits, I coordinate volunteers for these areas.

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: Because I am alone there are sometimes to many responsibilities to take care of. I find it very difficult to schedule work on my volunteer and internship data base.

The best part of my job is all the great volunteers. But I have also have a lot of flexibility which allows me time for personal and family things. I work with a great group of people.

Job Tips: Take courses on volunteer management. Become part of volunteer organizations in your area and the state. It's a great way to interact with those doing the same thing you are doing. Write letters to Career Services at as many colleges/universities/technical schools about internship opportunities as you can. Have volunteer Open House to showcase volunteer opportunities and direct it like a career fair.

Additional Thoughts: Be a warm friendly person when meeting with any individual whether they are interested in museum opportunities. Having started as a volunteer myself, I have a feel for what is welcoming & what will help our current crop of volunteers. I wish I had the budget to create paid internship positions & do things: events for volunteers to show appreciation instead of having a potluck dinner when you really want to recognize all your fantastic volunteers for all the time and talents they shared with us.

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