For the jobs I'm working towards, especially in the Federal Government, the openings are heavily weighing volunteer hours. This seems to be a shift from pre-COVID when credentials were a greater focus. I think this is a VERY positive change - allowing people with just as many skills and not as much wallpaper to access opportunities.
I heard the same advice when I attended FEMA's Federal Resume Workshop. Though the content is FEMA specific, and they designed it to help recruit emergency personnel, they had some excellent tips around integrating your volunteer experience into your resume.
FEMA Federal Resume Workshop - Live online workshop.
FEMA may be a bit too stressful for me, and I have my health to consider, but there are many other agencies and roles that are a better fit.
For federal roles, I'm focusing my efforts on Department of Interior (National Park Service (NPS), United States Geological Survey (USGS), Fish and Wildlife, and Forest Service.
What's great about the US Department of the Interior is that they have organized their volunteer efforts into one site and are in the process of helping volunteers track their hours through Volunteer.gov.
Opportunities range from being a camp host (great for those RV nomads), to visitor center work, to one-off events.
I'm using these volunteer opportunities to give back to my local parks, get to know some people, get outside, and do something fun. I'm also taking opportunities to continue re-skilling.
An ongoing volunteer effort I'm participating in is the USGS Map Corps.
USGS is using citizen volunteers to help update key structures such as schools, courthouses, health care facilities, and other public service structures.
For me, the Map Corps is an opportunity to see ArcGIS in action and work with it as an end user. I get to explore whether geography and cartography interest me. The work is also flexible based on my energy levels and mental stamina.
The program managers designed the program with badges to denote progress, recognition through their regular news releases, and a monthly "project" to focus volunteer attention and help new volunteers embed themselves into the work.
For example, in October, the Map Corps focused on updating the Utah schools. Many points haven't been updated since a 2016 application transition, so it was a great opportunity to see which schools closed, combined, received new buildings, and opened. I thought the research was a lot of fun.
My plan is to continue with this for the next few months as part of my mental stamina building program.
I'm also participating in a few event-driven National Park Service volunteer opportunities:
In mid-October, I volunteered at Peirce Mill in Rock Creek Park in Washington, DC. This was an opportunity to check my physical fitness, explore a section of DC I spend very little time in, meet more Park Rangers, and learn about the Mid-Atlantic grain industry. I manned one of the craft tables - helping kids of all ages create ink stamp fabric designs.
The big victory was surviving from 8:30am - 1pm on my feet. I slept the rest of the day, but it was a great test. I also had a nice conversation with the Park Service's volunteer coordinator about his experience working with the Park Service.
What I've heard from the Park Rangers I've talked to during my research - "We need help."
I'm keeping my eyes open for other activities that will help as I reskill. Early next year, I'll need to focus on paid work.